Legendary Guitarist Duane Eddy Dead At 86

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Duane Eddy, the beloved and influential musical pioneer whose twangy playing helped establish the primacy of the electric guitar in rock ‘n’ roll, has died. The New York Times reports that Eddy died from cancer Tuesday at in Franklin, Tenn. He had turned 86 just days before his death.

Eddy was born in Corning, New York in 1938 and began playing guitar as a young child. At the dawn of his teenage years, he moved to Tucson and then Phoenix, where he went on to form the band Jimmy And Duane with Jimmy Delbridge, aka Jimmy Dell. During a performance at Phoenix radio station KCKY, they met producer Lee Hazlewood, with whom Eddy would strike up a legendary partnership. Hazlewood recorded Jimmy And Duane’s 1955 debut single “Soda Fountain Girl,” the first of many collaborations between Eddy and Hazlewood.

Playing lead guitar on the lower strings of a Gretsch, Eddy hashed out a unique “twangy” sound that would have massive reverberations for artists like Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty, and a wide range of surf-rock bands. After scoring a minor hit with the 1957 instrumental “Movin’ n’ Groovin,” cowritten with Hazlewood, Eddy scored his true breakthrough with 1958’s “Rebel Rouser,” a #6 hit on Billboard’s newly established Hot 100 chart. Over the next five years, Eddy began to rack up hits, including “Cannonball,” “Peter Gunn,” “Forty Miles Of Bad Road,” “Bonnie Came Back,” “Because They’re Young,” and “(Dance With The) Guitar Man” among many others.

In the 1960s, Eddy got into acting, taking roles in movies such as A Thunder Of Drums, The Wild Westerners, Kona Coast, and The Savage Seven and the television series Have Gun – Will Travel. For the rest of his career, he didn’t score many more hits, but he continued to be a revered figure and a prolific collaborator. Both on his own records and those of other artists, he worked with multiple Beatles (Paul McCartney and George Harrison), Fogerty, Waylon Jennings, Phil Everly, Willie Nelson, Ry Cooder, Foreigner, the Mavericks, and many more. He did have a few more spotlight moments, such as when he played on Art Of Noise’s hit 1986 cover of “Peter Gunn” and in 1994, when his songs were featured in both Forrest Gump and Natural Born Killers.

Below, enjoy some Eddy classics.