Pioneering rock and roll guitarist Duane Eddy dies at 86

 May 2, 2024

Duane Eddy, the pioneering rock and roll guitarist known for his twangy sound on songs like "Rebel Rouser" and the theme music from "Peter Gunn," has died. He was 86.

At his peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Eddy released a string of instrumental hits that influenced generations of guitarists from George Harrison to Bruce Springsteen.

He died at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, his family said. The cause of death was cancer.

Rock guitarist Duane Eddy dies

Eddy was born in Corning, New York, and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where he learned guitar at a young age.

From 1958 to 1963, Eddy's distinctive "twang" echoed through popular culture in songs like the iconic 1958 instrumental "Rebel Rouser."

"It was a good title and it was the rockest rock ‘n’ roll sound. It was different for the time," Eddy once said of the tune.

Eddy co-wrote the song with Lee Hazlewood, later known for penning the Nancy Sinatra hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'."

During his commercial peak, Eddy also scored a hit with his 1960 cover of Henry Mancini's theme music for Peter Gunn. His highest-charting single was the theme from the 1960 movie Because They're Young.

Revered guitarist

By the 1970s, Eddy feared he was losing his edge, and he stepped back from music. But the impact he left was significant.

Eddy counted among his fans Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who both recorded music with him during their respective solo careers. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

"Duane inspired a generation of guitarists the world over with his unmistakeable signature ‘Twang’ sound. He was the first rock and roll guitar god, a truly humble and incredible human being. He will be sorely missed,” a rep for Eddy said.

Over the course of his career, Eddy sold over 100 million records. But Eddy was proudest of the impact he had on other great musicians.

"When people come right out, like Bruce Springsteen or John Fogerty, and say: 'Duane was a big influence,' that's just one of the perks and rewards of what I did," he told the BBC in 2011. "That's worth more to me than money and the fame. That goes right to the heart."

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