Duane Eddy

TrackAlbum
Moovin' N' Groovin'Have 'Twangy' Guitar Will Travel
Rebel RouserHave 'Twangy' Guitar Will Travel
RamrodHave 'Twangy' Guitar Will Travel
Some Kind-A Earthquake$1,000,000.00 Worth of Twang
Peter GunnEspecially for You
TramboneThe "Twang's" The "Thang"
The BattleThe "Twang's" The "Thang"
You Are My SunshineThe "Twang's" The "Thang"
The Last Minute Of InnocenceThe "Twang's" The "Thang"
EasyThe "Twang's" The "Thang"

The first seven tracks from the above list – Moovin’ N’ Groovin’, Rebel Rouser, Ramrod, Some Kind-A Earthquake, Peter Gunn, The Battle, Trambone – were also released on singles in the US prior to 1962.

 

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-dark-background-rgb-sm

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

 

THE TOP TWANG …

THE GUITAR MAN …

 

Duane Eddy photo

 

MOOVIN’ N’ GROOVIN’
The first Jamie single and one of his most basic records ever . . . A chorus that is nothing more than a semitone slide onto a bass note that the other Eddie (Cochran of course) used most effectively in Summertime Blues and others . . . I also find myself singing “ballads and calypsos have got nothing on, that really country music that just drives along” . . . The verse is almost as simple, a riff played on the treble strings for a change . . . Brown-eyed and handsome too . . . Great sax break from Steve Douglas . . . Who said there was no extemporisation in instrumental rock and roll? . . . No rebel yells . . . The full formula wasn’t in place yet . . . A number to get the show on the road and the couples on the floor

RAMROD
The early rockers were the best rockers Duane ever made . . . The original of this one predated the Jamie singles but was credited to Duane when it should have been (then) band leader Al Casey . . . He and Duane go head to head on it, striking sparks off each other . . . The recut version includes another scorching solo from Steve Douglas which just lifts it above the original . . . And it still comes in under 1 minute 40

REBEL ROUSER
Echo, echo, and more echo . . . More, even, than Sam Phillips over in Memphis had ever dreamed of . . . They say you never forget the first time . . . Rebel Rouser was that first time for us kids in the UK, we hadn’t heard its predecessor . . . A sound like no one else, ever . . . Melody played on the bass strings with oodles of depth and resonance . . . Emphatic rhythm . . . A sax that erupted into raucous honking, just on the verge of being corny . . . On later records it wasn’t unusual for it to topple over into deep corn but you still felt that Hazlewood knew what he was doing . . . Hints of country . . . You might have called it rootsy if the word had been invented by then

SOME KIND-A EARTHQUAKE
Heavily chorded intro and Duane sticks with it right through apart from some punctuation from some single note slide ups . . . Very reminiscent of the guy with the glasses who died in the plane crash earlier in the year . . . Was this a tribute? . . . According to Wiki, at 1:17 this was the shortest song ever to hit the US Top 40

PETER GUNN
RIFF, RIFF, RIFF, RIFF . . . The biggest in the whole of rock and roll . . . Well it was then and who’s to say it’s not now . . . American noir television theme or how we imagined such things . . . Dark streets . . . A car rushes past for no apparent reason . . . A distant siren and a flash of lights . . . Violence round the corner? . . . RIFF RIFF RIFF RIFF . . . duh duh, duh duh, duh duh, duh duh . . . Eight notes . . . Arranged in pairs . . . Could be played on a single string . . . By anyone . . . But could anyone sound like this? . . . A sax that never threatens to drop into Benny Hill land . . . Serious . . . Ominous . . . Threatening . . . Murderous . . . Take all those words and multiply them . . . RIFF RIFF RIFF RIFF

TRAMBONE
Teen pop but not teen pop . . . Standard but not standard . . . Duane but not Duane . . . Most of the musicians had left but Lee kept the tape rolling . . . Thoughts turning to one of the thirteen hundred and fifty two Guitar pickers in Nashville . . . THE one . . . The one they all worshipped . . . Chet Atkins, LEGEND . . . Can you do him justice? . . . Going to have a damn good try . . . Clean as country water (with apologies to John Sebastian)

THE BATTLE
Elegy to the US of A in four parts . . . Suitably sombre first section with solitary drum and flute stating the theme . . . Ethereal ladies . . . Enter Duane at an easy lope . . . The ladies switching to doowoppy responses . . . BIG key change as the cannons a.k.a. Jim Horn on snorting tenor sax takes over, scattering all before him . . . One rebel yeller urging Jim on . . . Then Duane is back in full twang mode plus the ladies whose eyes have seen the glory and they wanna tell the world about it . . . And, almost before you know it, the whole thing is over . . . The smoke is clearing . . . They’ve gone, and less than two minutes have passed . . . Jimi got round to his own elegy to the US a few years later but Duane was there first

YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE
Please don’t take my sunshine away . . . Slowwwww from the gospel guys and gals . . . Then it’s Duane and only Duane . . . You are my Sunshine . . . Then the rhythm section . . . How do they make that funky sound? . . . Is that a wobble board in there? . . . Am I even allowed to say such things now? . . . What is it about this simple song that inspires versions as good as this?

THE LAST MINUTE OF INNOCENCE
Piano opens and continues in harmony with Duane’s Gretsch . . . Slow . . . Broody . . . Gospel ladies having orgasms . . . One of the most unusual things I’ve ever heard . . . Is it soul? . . . Soulful, certainly

EASY
Last dance and it’s a smoocher . . . You can feel her heartbeat as the couples around you dip and sway . . . She looks into your eyes . . . Your heart is beating faster too . . . What a girl . . . Let’s just lean down into a kiss as the last notes fade away

 

The real fans, the faithful, will know what the above was all about.

For the others …

Duane Eddy bestrode the pop scene for his allotted spell and that was it (though devoted fans still followed his every move thereafter). That pop scene was often characterised as cheap and sometimes tawdry. Certainly it had little claim to any degree of literacy, or indeed to culture of any kind. But there were exceptions. Lee Hazlewood, co-manager and producer of Duane, was one. Indeed he was virtually a walking exception. On the album, The “Twang’s” The “Thang”, (a delightful semi-literate title), Hazlewood wrote little descriptions of each song in an almost poetic manner (though my use of the word “poetic” is pushing it). I’ve attempted to do the same thing for my selections and any remote connection to poetry has disappeared in the process.

 

THE ALMOST-MADE-ITS

As always there were some that didn’t quite make it, so here’s a second ten to complete an overall Top Twenty for Duane. And I freely confess that, in selecting these, I did have a subsidiary target of illustrating the man’s versatility.

THE LONELY ONE
Archetype smoochtime teen ballad . . . As sung by a thousand doo wop groups . . . And it always works

I ALMOST LOST MY MIND
Duane signalled his interest in blues as early as his second Jamie single (Stalkin’ was the original A-side) and built on it in that first album . . . He captured Ivory Joe Hunter’s unusual intonation on that Gretsch . . . Oodles of improvisation from both guitar and sax . . . This was real blues . . . Could almost have come from the Atlantic studios

LOVING YOU
Not many covered El and came away with any credit . . . One of the great man’s best early ballads too . . . While Duane gives the song respect, he makes sure it’s his version . . . Solo opening and when the support arrives, it’s restrained and highly sympathetic . . . Timing and tone

LOVER
Fast, jazzy and almost flash . . . I wonder if this was a piece that Duane mastered when he was learning guitar . . . The sort of thing that yours truly turned his nose up at back in those days (and yes, I do own the LP this one sits on and you can’t skip tracks with ease on LPs) . . . Love Lover now though, in part because it’s outside expectations of Duane unless you’re a follower

FORTY MILES OF BAD ROAD
Starts off so well . . . Good melody line, simple but works . . . Hand claps (Gene Vincent’s Clapper Boys influence maybe) . . . Interesting near martial drumming . . . But 40 seconds in, the formula takes over, the sax player adopting one of his less attractive tones and the solitary rebel yeller starts to wonder what he’s doing there . . . If they’d dropped the supporting cast and put some serious thought into developing the arrangement this would have been in the Ten (apologies to Duane if you ever get to read this) . . . As it is, it’s here . . . For those first 40 seconds

BECAUSE THEY’RE YOUNG
Movie theme and sounds like it . . . Could well have suited a Western . . . String drenched but that’s what movie themes used to be about . . . Duane doesn’t lose his edge though which saves the enterprise from mediocrity, and the result is something of a minor triumph

TIGER LOVE AND TURNIP GREENS
It’s gonna have to be good to match that title . . . Duane comes in at a helluva lick with single drum backing . . . It IS that good! . . . Country but rock‘n’roll at the same time . . . One minute and 30 seconds of pure pleasure . . . Maybe I’m getting a tad hung up on timings but these guys often say a lot in a relatively short time

NIGHT TRAIN TO MEMPHIS
The tearless cry of a freight passing on some other track . . . A Tennessee town population 403 . . . Hallelujahs! From the lost and the found in some nearby gospel tent . . . A sleepy porter selling 25c pillows . . . Guaranteed to make your uncomfortable day coach seat as soft as a Hollywood bed . . . Eight stops in one hour . . . A smile from the girl who sat behind you just as she leaves the train . . . A few more hours to go . . . So enjoy your ride on the night train to Memphis
(This isn’t mine . . .Which must be highly obvious . . . It’s hand copied from the back of The “Twang’s” The “Thang”)

REBEL WALK
Dark, lonely streets . . . There’s someone ahead . . . Isn’t that Max Branning? . . . They don’t call him “nasty” for nothing . . . He knows what he’s doing but does anyone else? . . . It’s riff time again . . . Peter Gunn with subtlety maybe . . . There’s a heavenly choir instead of rebel yells. . . and Jim Horn in full-on scorched earth mode on his tenor

THEME FOR MOON CHILDREN
Unusual single . . . Both sides . . . The A-side was Kommotion . . . Attempts to use strings in the context of rock . . . In my view it’s this side that worked better . . . Slow and deliberate but interest maintained well . . . Was there a Moon Children film or show?

Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that my selections have stopped somewhere round mid-ˈ62, coincident with Duane’s switch from Jamie to RCA Victor. It’s not that I’m totally averse to the RCA records. Nor did his hits totally stop then. He continued to get chart placings for another year or more. Nor was it because the blandifying of Duane’s output started then. It was already under way with 1961’s Pepe, which, to be fair, the public loved – we Brits bought it in droves and sent it up to a #2 chart position, his highest equal spot.

No, it’s a combination of two opinions I hold, and I’m happy to call them that since they certainly don’t qualify as facts:

1) There was nothing truly great in terms of records released past this point though plenty were very listenable. Indeed titles like Son Of Rebel Rouser gave the impression that a level of desperation was creeping into the brains of those charged with looking after Duane and his output.

2) There was a feeling of corporate packaging being wrapped around our hero. He’d always been subject to molding from Hazlewood and Sill (who tends to get ignored/forgotten), but that, coupled with the appearance on an indie label, gave the impression of a few mavericks operating together unlike a big corporate like RCA. True, Lee did stick around for a few releases but the magic wasn’t there.

I should perhaps, make mention of (Dance With The) Guitar Man for which I do have some fondness. As an affectionate almost post-modern look at his, largely Jamie created, image, it had merit, and Duane certainly played his part very well. But as a rocker, does it really compare with Ramrod or Moovin’ N’ Groovin’, or even the later Tiger Love And Turnip Greens? Maybe it was more an acknowledgement that the rock‘n’roll era had been over for some years.

 

THE BIOGRAPHY

Duane Eddy was born on 26th April 1938 in Corning, New York and began playing guitar at the age of five. The family moved to Tucson and then on to Coolidge, Arizona. He started performing with a friend, Jimmy Delbridge, later to record solo as Jimmy Dell. The duo performed as Jimmy And Duane with both on vocals. They picked up some bookings at local radio station KCKY. It was there that they came to the attention of DJ, Lee Hazlewood. In 1955 Lee produced the first single from the duo which was entitled Soda Fountain Girl c/w I Want Some Lovin’ Baby. From the title you might have suspected that this was a teen ditty but in fact it was out and out hillbilly. In interviews, Duane often mentions Hank Williams as an unofficial mentor.

Both Jimmy and Duane were involved in a loose but creative mix of musicians centred around Hazlewood and it was out of this mix that the latter’s first production success came, with Sanford Clark’s The Fool which featured Al Casey on guitar. Duane was reportedly present on some of Clark’s later records and it was Hazlewood who was later to claim some responsibility for moving Duane to that low and very distinctive twangy sound that you hear on his hit records. According to Wayback Attack, Lee was the man who suggested Duane move to the lower notes, much as the guitarist had done on Bill Justis’ Raunchy (see Footnotes). However, it was Duane himself who added the string bending. He joined a group led by Al Casey in 1957 and also began studying under jazz guitarist Jim Wybele. Another of his early heroes was country guitarist and producer, Chet Atkins.

Lee Hazlewood, along with his colleague Lester Sill, persisted with Duane and his new twangy sound and made some demo discs which they touted around the indie record labels. Jamie Records of Philadelphia were interested enough to offer Duane a contract and the first record that was released under his name was Movin’ N’ Groovin’ which picked up some local sales and got the DJs interested. But it was his second release, Rebel Rouser, which was to go on and sell a million copies and effectively make Duane’s name. It also gave him a title for the band who henceforth were known as the Rebels. Al Casey was a member of that band but usually playing bass instead of guitar.

That record was just the start of a series of hits which took Duane into the sixties. His popularity was to wane within a couple of years as an element of repetitiveness crept into the singles. That, plus the impact of the groups from this side of the pond, started to turn record buyers’ attention elsewhere. Ironically though, it was buyers on this side of the pond plus mainland Europe, who continued to show interest in Duane, even if at a comparatively low level.

Duane, with some help from Lee, was one of the earliest rock stars to pay serious attention to the creation of albums in their own right, as opposed to grab bags for singles plus their flips and takes recorded at singles’ sessions but not thought strong enough for release.

LP #1, Have “Twangy” Guitar Will Travel, was mainly singles though ‘twas a lot better than that might sound, while #2 added some coolish jazzy tracks, shining a wider light on our man’s skills. But LP #3, The “Twang’s” The “Thang”, was the real breakthrough. Although not stated, it was a concept album well before such things had been thought of. The concept was Old Tyme America, or even Americana as we tend to term it now. Covers of St Louis Blues, The Battle (Hymn Of The Republic), You Are My Sunshine, and My Blue Heaven –all star spangled and evocative. The new stuff still dripping gumbo, rice and the bayous. American place names. The Evelyn Freeman Gospel Singers. And what about those sleeve notes!

Encouraged by the success of The “Twang’s” The “Thang”, the next album definitely was a concept. Maybe Lee and Lester were taking note of the demise of fifties rock and attempting to move Duane into a folk cum easy listening market in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, Songs Of Our Heritage was relatively limp-wristed in comparison to most of what had come before, and didn’t play to the strengths of Duane and Lee. (Perhaps I should add that mine might be a minority view on this one. Amazon UK reviewers have generally given it a thumbs-up.)

Throughout the fallow years, Duane kept on releasing records and touring, though the latter started aiming more and more at the nostalgia market which got increasingly lucrative as the decades rolled on. That Duane was never forgotten by his UK fans is evidenced by Road Trip, the album produced by long term Duane nut, Richard Hawley, in 2011. This also led to an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival.

I reviewed Road Trip on Amazon UK and gave it four stars. I opened the review in the following manner:

“Saw the MAN coming in – a bit more weather worn – got a salt‘n’pepper beard these days – he’s done his forty miles of bad road and come right out the far end – got a little skinny fellow at his side, carrying the guitar case – think he used to be in one of those Brit bands – the lad’s opening the case now and there’s that big red fat shiny Gretsch – that one’s been through a few battles – he’s plugging the lead in and ….”

I’m not sure that Richard is skinny exactly but it just seemed to fit, and I was chuffed to get a positive comment from the founder of Duane Eddy Circle.

Hawley was nowhere near alone in his love for the Eddy oeuvre. Duane was undoubtedly the key influence on the flood of instrumental bands which appeared on the scene in the early ˈ60’s, not just in the US, but in the UK and Europe. One suspects that the Shadows might have remained Cliff’s backing band if it hadn’t been for the man with the Gretsch guitar.

 

THE MUSIC

I used the word “rootsy” in relation to Rebel Rouser but it’s just as applicable to a lot of Duane’s music. It’s a deceptive word, though. Typically it will conjure up images of finger picked guitars, fiddles, mandolins and so on. But with Duane those roots went off in lots of directions. That first album, Have “Twangy” Guitar Will Travel, offers us some good examples. If you ignore the breakdown of songs between those that came from existing singles, those that were recorded for the album – and, yes, six of the tracks came from a single session held in October 1958 – and even those tracks that later appeared on singles or EPs, and just consider the songs in their own right, then the breakdown is as follows:

* Five of the songs could be classified as R&B Instrumentals (see Footnotes) – but with Duane’s guitar appearing in addition to a sax, bearing in mind that it would be a sax, or sometimes piano (and later, organ) that generally took the lead in such R&B thrashes. Duane, and his running mate Al Casey, had a knowledge of such material that went well beyond Bill Justis’ Raunchy. These numbers didn’t come from nowhere. I would add that three of the tracks were credited composition wise to Hazlewood and Eddy.

* A whopping three of the songs were straight, or almost straight, slow to medium tempo twelve bar blues. I’ve already mentioned Ivory Joe’s I Almost Lost My Mind and made brief reference to Stalkin’. The last named was the original A-side to Rebel Rouser but, in essence, it was a slow blues featuring heavy reverb guitar and an overdubbed male vocal outfit oh-ing and ah-ing. The last of the trio, Three 30 Blues, might have been the most interesting of the lot (and I’m wondering why I didn’t manage to find room for it in one of my groups of selections). There were no gestures to a pop audience, and it consisted of nothing more than Duane, Al Casey (on piano for a change) and Steve Douglas (sax) improvising over a twelve bar framework. I may be going out on a limb but I don’t think anything like this had ever been heard before from a group of white guys. Whenever whitey played the blues way back then, he, she or they, almost invariably did it in a jazz (or sometimes folk) context. Blues was part of jazz wasn’t it? Have I got that right?

The early Beatles liked this track so much that they included it in their Hamburg stage act. Reportedly, Ringo was particularly keen. Duane and the boys evidently enjoyed it because it was the longest track on the album.

* There were two pop ballads in the set; Loving You (from Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller) and the Hazlewood/Eddy penned The Lonely One, both of which get mentions above. While not “rootsy” in the expected sense, they do show influences. Duane exhibits strong awareness of contemporary pop (and delivers El’s Loving You with considerable sensitivity). I’d add that both were totally unlike anything Duane had put on single at this time.

* Finally there were two oldies, the originals of both of which dated back to the twenties. The two songs, Lonesome Road and Anytime (see Footnotes for information on the sources) were treated sympathetically by Duane, though there was an unusual twist on Anytime. The performance opens with a latin rhythm unlike any preceding versions and Duane tootles along quite merrily until the minute mark when the mood changes with the entry of Steve Douglas in full “The Stripper” mode, complete with grinding beat. For the last verse we’re back with Duane and the near cocktail lounge delivery (and that wasn’t intended to be rude, I enjoyed it). An interesting Jekyll & Hyde performance illustrating a willingness to shake things up a bit and go for a surprise.

Before leaving Have “Twangy” Guitar Will Travel I should record the fact that it stayed in the Billboard album chart for 82 weeks and is widely seen to be the king of all rock instrumental albums

What that album didn’t really show was (a) Duane’s early background in country and (b) his interest in creating mood pieces (though Stalkin’ might be considered an early attempt at one).

Country could crop up in unusual ways in Duane’s output. Take for example, the rocker Shazam which starts out in the usual near R&B vein but then suddenly switches to yee haw land when the entire band joins in. This occurs on several numbers, often with the sax player taking a kind of cod fiddle role. A more upfront blending of rock and up tempo country is present on tracks like Tiger Love And Turnip Greens.

A number of Duane’s tracks during the Jamie period didn’t really fit in any category. Usually slow, often repetitive, sometimes based around a riff, tune subsidiary to performance, and with great variation in style of performance, these are the ones I’d call Duane’s Mood Music Pieces. I’d expect Duane fans to quote different examples but mine would include Rebel Walk, Quiniela (the jazzy one), Only Child, The Walker, Along Came Linda, Lost Island but these are by no means the only ones. (And I’m chickening out if you ask which record triggers which set of emotions, or mood.)

But I think that’s an impressive range of genres to dive into and emerge doing a splendid front crawl. That implies attention to roots and a serious devotion to one’s trade.

 

“I’d say the first real guitar god in rock & roll was Duane Eddy. Duane was the front guy, the bandleader, and they were great songs – it wasn’t just jamming. Here was a guy who was laying down the template for how to get across to the public … His sound is one of those untouchable, unique things.” (John Fogerty in rollingstone.com)

“Make no mistake, Eddy is a legend, an American original whose legacy is on the same high creative peak as Ray Charles and Johnny Cash.” (No Depression: The Return of the King of Twang – written by Terry Roland)

I’m happy to repeat the word used by John Fogerty, Duane Eddy is unique. The most popular instrumentalist in pop music since the Second World War. Yes, there were instrumental groups who came after – and I’m thinking particularly of the Ventures and the Shadows – but they couldn’t match his range.

Keep on rocking, Duane.

 

 

 

THE FOOTNOTES

1. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, dance bands ruled the roost and that was reflected in records issued and records sold, both in the US and most other western countries. As the black music scene in America evolved into what got labelled rhythm and blues, instrumental records from small groups started to appear in addition to those from the well established big bands like those led by Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Records like Earl Bostic’s Flamingo and Bill Doggett’s famous Honky Tonk sold well, and squawking saxes became almost the order of the day, certainly in the R&B chart with the occasional breakthrough to a wider audience.

In contrast, rock and roll, at least in its initial incarnation, was very much vocal music with a stronger reliance on the singer rather than on the band. One of the earliest instrumental records that could be termed rock and roll rather than R&B was Bill Justis’ Raunchy, which wasn’t a million miles from those R&B affairs but with guitar in addition to sax. The band in this case were, by and large, the session musicians at the Sun studios well used to featuring in a support role for Sam Phillips’ redoubtable band of rockers. Justis himself was schooled in the traditional roles of arranging and band leading, and was brought up with a backdrop of big band music. The record was simplicity incarnate. Uncredited axe man Sid Manker playing one of the least complex riffs you could ever imagine on his bottom pair of strings for twelve bars, plus a sax man coming in after a couple of choruses to add a bit of raunch.

Initially, the majority of hit singles in an instrumental vein were of a one-off nature, with something different, maybe a novelty effect or a riff just capturing the record buyer’s imagination. The man who broke the pattern was Duane Eddy, backed by local heroes and LA session men (like sax players Steve Douglas and Jim Horn and pianist Larry Knechtel) plus producer Lee Hazlewood. The latter was one of the earliest ‘big’ producers in the rock field, soon to be followed by the likes of Phil Spector, Bert Berns and plenty more. How much of the Eddy sound was down to the man himself and how much was Hazlewood is guesswork but together they created a form of guitar led, instrumental rock and roll which came closer than anyone in capturing the spirit and sometimes the aggression – just take a listen to Peter Gunn – of early vocal rock.

2. As an aside – but an interesting one – in 1958, a very young George Harrison played the song Raunchy to John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the top deck of a double decker bus in Liverpool. On the basis of that performance, Lennon allowed him to join the Quarrymen and we know what they turned in to (source: Wiki).

3. To those who didn’t recognise “ballads and calypsos have got nothing on, that really country music that just drives along”, shame on you. The line comes from one of that ever so tiny handful of British hits that deserved to be called rock‘n’roll, Sir Cliff’s Move It. Check out the middle eight. I may not have got quite the right line but you’ll hear that slide up albeit more on treble notes.

4. The “guy with the glasses” and the “plane crash” references were, of course, to Buddy Holly. One of the man’s oft favoured changes was A D A – he very often played in the key of A – with a drop to a resounding E chord, usually to indicate a turnaround. Check out Peggy Sue but there were loads more. I’m sure Duane must have had Buddy in mind on this track.

5. To give credit where it’s due, Peter Gunn was the theme to a television show of the same name written by Henry Mancini and released on a soundtrack album, The Music From Peter Gunn, in 1959. Duane managed to get a second hit with the number when he recorded it with the Art Of Noise in 1986.

6. John Sebastian was the writer of Nashville Cats, the lyrics of which song I borrowed.

7. The wobble board reference was to Rolf Harris but it’d probably be frowned upon to even mention him these days. And I’ve no idea why my mind picked up that that comparison but it is an unusual rhythm on You Are My Sunshine.

8. I attribute the writing of the song descriptions on The “Twang’s” The “Thang” to Lee Hazlewood. I could be wrong. They could be from Lester Sill, or from Lester and Lee, or someone else altogether. The only credit given on the sleeve is to both Lester Sill and Lee Hazlewood but that is to a summary rather than the actual vignettes. My guess was based on the known Hazlewood song writing ability.

9. The chord progression used in The Lonely One was the one that’s often called the Doo Wop Progression since it was utilised heavily by doo wop groups and other from the mid fifties through the early sixties. However, it was around well before that decade. Try humming the backing track to Blue Moon.

10. Ivory Joe Hunter was a relatively sophisticated black blues singer, song writer and pianist who achieved crossover chart success in the fifties. Apart from I Almost Lost My Mind, the other number most associated with him was/is Since I Met You Baby. He recorded for Atlantic Records in his heyday.

11. The song Lover was written by Rodgers and Hart.

12. The full credit on Soda Fountain Girl reads “Jimmy and Duane with Buddy Long and the Western Melody Boys”.

13. If you take a look at 45cat you’ll see a record appearing between Soda Fountain Girl and Moovin’ N’ Groovin’. The record is entitled Ramrod and it’s credited to Duane Eddy, or, if you look closely, to Duane Eddy and His Rock-A-Billies. It was released by Ford of Los Angeles and looks suspiciously like their first, being numbered F-1001. The attribution was an error. It should have been credited to Al Casey with whose band Duane had been appearing, as stated in the main text. Duane, of course, did go on to cut Ramrod himself after Rebel Rouser.

14. I made mention of the usage of low or what are often called the bottom strings on his guitar, plus the string bending technique used by Duane, as contributors to the “twangy” sound. There was a third: Lee Hazlewood bought a 2,000 gallon water tank which he used as an echo chamber.

15. The original spelling/appearance of Rebel Rouser as it appeared on Jamie 1104 was Rebel-‘Rouser though it’s the unadorned version you’ll normally see in articles on Duane, and that’s the one I’ve used.

16. Herewith the story on how Rebel Rouser broke in the US, from Duane himself. The key thing you need to know was that it was originally the B-side.

“Here’s the story. Several years later I was talking with Dick Clark and he told me how “Rebel Rouser” finally got played. In the late ’50s, he would travel around to sock hop dances for teenagers and play hit 45s for the kids. He always had three boxes of singles. He’d only play the A side, with the hit on it. That would take three hours, one hour per box. One day, he left one of the boxes behind, so he showed up at the hop with only two boxes. So, he decided to play the B-sides. When he played “Rebel Rouser,” the kids went crazy. They started dancing. I always used to tell Dick Clark that when he turned the record over, he saved my career.” (Source: Interview with Duane by Terry Roland in No Depression)

17. Rebel Yells were an unexpected addition to the wide variety of sounds that make up rock and roll. That was something I hadn’t thought much about until a visit to the Newquay Fish Festival in late summer/early autumn 2017. In between the cooking demos in the marquee there were musical interludes. One was from a local folk cum sea shanty vocal group called Shiver My Timbers. They were backed by a fiddle player and, for one number – a celtic jig sort of thing – the group gave the fiddle player his head with singers dropping back to accompanying whoops and hollers. And it clicked into place. Rebel Yells. Something that appears in various forms of folk music from a range of countries – Mexico is an obvious one. I don’t know if that was the sort of thing that Hazlewood was thinking of but it worked well, albeit not to a degree that it was instantly copied by other record producers. Maybe that’s just as well, too.

18. The yells (and sometimes handclaps) on Rebel Rouser and several subsequent records were supplied by a black vocal group initially known as the Sharps and later as the Rivingtons. Under the second name they went on to have a short series of hits starting with the doo wop classic Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow from 1962 onwards.

19. Striking a blow for feminism – there were very few ladies in 1950s rock and roll – Al Casey’s wife Vivian played rhythm guitar in the early days of The Rebels. She took the name of Corky Casey. (Source: Wayback Attack feature on Duane, plus other online documents)

20. While on the subject of the ladies, I should mention that country singer Mirriam Johnson tied the knot with Duane in 1961. It was his second marriage and was to last till they divorced in 1968. Mirriam subsequently took the stage name Jessi Colter and married again, this time to Waylon Jennings. There was an intriguing connection between Eddy and Jennings on the latter’s 1971 album, Singer Of Sad Songs. It was produced by Lee Hazlewood (and was the only Jennings album to be produced by Lee) and had a comedy skit on the flip of the sleeve instead of the usual notes. Appearing in the skit was “a lady named Jessi”.

21. The “fallow years” I referred to in the biography weren’t quite so fallow in non-musical terms. He moved into acting in the sixties. While he never became a real star in movie terms it ensured that there was a cash inflow while little was happening in his music career.

22. Lonesome Road, the opening track on Have “Twangy” Guitar Will Travel, was originally a song intended to be a “black folk blues” written in 1927 by a couple of white gents, Nathaniel Shilkret and Gene Austin (see Toppermost #50), both very popular at the time (information courtesy of Wiki). From this perspective it’s somewhat difficult to imagine this sort of thing went on, but it did. The first recorded version came from Austin (the lyric writer) but the number of subsequent ones is too long to list and they came in styles that were many and varied.

23. Anytime (or Any Time), the other oldie on Have “Twangy” Guitar Will Travel, was written by a man with the delightful name of Herbert “Happy” Larson in 1924. And it was Herbert who appeared on the first recorded version (in 1925) accompanying himself on ukulele. It’s usually viewed as a country number with the first version to seriously dent the charts coming from Eddy Arnold and his Tennessee Plowboys in 1948. The pedal steel and fiddle on this one (not to mention the late-on yodel from Ed) very much confirm that country origin. A slightly later version (1951) from Eddie Fisher turned the song into more of a big pop ballad. There was also a later (1962) version from Patsy Cline and it was predictably excellent.

24. Duane’s number The Walker had a slightly unusual provenance in that it was a version of a vocal number from Al Casey, She Gotta Shake. I’m sure the late Al would concur in my statement that singing wasn’t really his strength. He’ll go down in rock history, though, for coming up with that riff on Sanford Clark’s The Fool – a borrowing of the one in the Wolf’s Smokestack Lightning and an indication of the breadth of Casey’s listening – and for the splendid backing on Jody Reynolds’ Endless Sleep. After his departure from the Rebels, Al moved to Hollywood and became an in-demand session man.

25. Duane used to play a Chet Atkins-model Gretsch 6120 hollow body guitar. The other major player of a Gretsch 6120 guitar in early rock and roll history was, of course, Eddie Cochran. These days Gretsch can sell you a G6120DE Duane Eddy signature model.

26. In October 1960, Duane was voted the “World’s Outstanding Musical Personality” ahead of Elvis by the readers of the New Musical Express (NME).

27. Duane and the group the Art Of Noise were given a Grammy award in 1986 for their updated and charting version of Peter Gunn.

28. In 1992, Duane recorded a version of the Chantays’ Pipeline with Hank Marvin which appeared on the latter’s album, Into The Light.

29. In 2008, Duane’s Rebel Walk was used by the BBC as background music to an advert for their soap “EastEnders”. The figure seen in the ad was “nasty” Max Branning who continues to be just as nasty up to this day.

30. The British music mag Mojo placed Duane’s album Road Trip at number 37 on its list of “Top 50 albums of 2011”.

31. Duane has traced his ancestry to the year 1630 (and before) when two boys travelled to America roughly ten years after the Pilgrim Fathers. This is the man himself on the subject:

“My ancestor was the vicar at St. Dunstan’s (Cranbrook, Kent) from 1571 until 1616 when he died, and his two boys left 14 years later in 1630. They sailed over on a ship called the Handmaiden to Plymouth Rock and took up farming. We can trace the whole line of them from both boys, Samuel and John. Samuel was my ancestor, I guess that makes me American anyway!” (Source: Interview with Duane in 2011 by Robert Silverstein)

 

Duane Eddy photo 2

 

Duane Eddy Circle – official fan club site

Duane Eddy facebook

Duane Eddy discography

Duane Eddy at 45cat

Duane Eddy: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Duane Eddy biography (iTunes)

Lee Hazlewood (1929–2007) – official website

Al Casey (1936–2006) – Rockabilly Hall of Fame

Dave Stephens had a long career in IT – programming, consultancy, management etc. – before retiring in 2007. After spending time on the usual retiree type activities he eventually got round to writing on one of his favourite subjects, popular music, particularly, but not only, the sort that was around in his youth. He gained experience at ‘the writing thing’ by placing CD reviews on Amazon. This led to his first book “RocknRoll” which was published for Kindle in 2015. He followed this up with “London Rocks” in July 2016. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Presley, Jody Reynolds, Gene Vincent

TopperPost #661

9 Comments

  1. David Lewis
    Oct 3, 2017

    There were ‘better’ guitarists: the incendiary fireworks of Cliff Gallup or James Burton; the subtlety of Scotty Moore; the sparseness of Luther Perkins; the sledgehammer in the head of Chuck Berry, the angry fuzz of Dick Dale. But there was no better master of the ‘just right’ than that Gretsch, the echo and the amp, clean as tomorrow’s sheets, with a sound as cool as the other side of the pillow. One of the greats.

  2. Ian Ashleigh
    Oct 3, 2017

    If my memory isn’t playing tricks, the single of Because They’re Young had Rebel Walk on the B side. I enjoyed the read, I’ve not listened to Duane Eddy for a long time although I do have downloads of Boss Guitar and The Biggest Twang of them All. I think David’s summary above says it all!

  3. Mike Cheyne
    Oct 3, 2017

    Nice article. Glad to see a mention of Move It! By the way Because They’re Young introduced Johnnie Walker’s Radio Caroline show in the mid 60s. And he continued to use it after most of the pirates were closed down in 1967. It was a kind of anthem for us baby boomers. Very appropriate! I think he still uses it on his Sunday afternoon show on Radio 2.

  4. Andrew Shields
    Oct 3, 2017

    Great stuff….schmaltz & pickled herring, stuffed cabbage, heavy moral vocabulary …. sweetness & sentiment…. house rocking, superior beauty… not just standing there — the seductive magic of the thumbs up salute…

    • Dave Stephens
      Oct 3, 2017

      Gentlemen, my guilty secret is out but I’m pleased to see that I’m not the only person with a love for Duane Eddy music. Thanks for all those comments and I would hope from their early arrival, that some of my enjoyment in putting this thing together got through. I know I indulged myself in those song vignettes but it was good to get away from the formal approach. Ian, you’re correct about that single. Mike, thanks for that Because They’re Young/Johnnie Walker connection. I should have remembered that since I was living in Rochester during some of the pirate radio era so used to get the signals well. Andrew, yes all that culture plus Rebel Yells and the occasional Benny Hill sax.

  5. Peter Viney
    Oct 5, 2017

    Because They’re Young would have been the first on my list, followed by Peter Gunn (the first thing I learned to play) and Theme From Dixie. I love the RCA period too. As well as Dance With The Guitar Man, that produced Deep In The Heart of Texas and Ballad of Paladin and when he was scraping the barrel, Son of Rebel Rouser. I suppose Ballad of Paladin fits in well with Because They’re Young. A mention for the LP ‘Duane Eddy Does Dylan’ on the Colpix label in 1965, which also includes Eve of Destruction, but hey, it’s all protest. He also issued Duane A Go Go on Colpix. I’ve never heard it, but have seen the LP on display at an astonishing £50.

    • Dave Stephens
      Oct 5, 2017

      I was half expecting to be hauled over the coals for not including “Because They’re Young” and/or, nothing after the Jamie Records but you were very polite Peter. Something I’ve always liked about the Toppermost ethos is the ability to be more subjective than “professional reviewers” but I hope I also respect the responsibility of reflecting/representing an artist’s oeuvre. Or is that all a bit heavy? I did investigate the Dylan set out of curiosity more than duty but wasn’t keen (sorry Duane).

  6. Peter Viney
    Oct 8, 2017

    In the words of the Flying Burritos, “the older guys” at youth club brought in the London (i.e. Jamie) Duane Eddy records. My first was the Because They’re Young EP, then I bought the RCA ones as they came out. My friends looked askance, being into The Shadows, but I always preferred Duane Eddy. Ballad of Paladin starts off with the orchestra then in come the drums and Duane. It has often been said that Duane’s twangy take on a known Western theme influenced Enio Morricone’s take on Westerns. If you compare it with the previous 45, Deep In The Heart of Texas, fit’s a major development. Duane Eddy has been ill-served by CD compilations.

    • Dave Stephens
      Oct 11, 2017

      I did a bit of digging after picking up your comment. There doesn’t seem to be direct linkage between Eddy & Morricone but plenty of indirect ones as you stated. One of those was another composer Hans Zimmer, who does state, and I think correctly, that Morricone was the first to introduce electric guitar into western theme music – an anachronistic instrument one might think. He goes on to say that he always thought the guitarist that Ennio used “was trying to sound like Duane Eddy”. His (Zimmer’s) score for the film “Broken Arrow” was intended as a tribute to that guitarist but using the real thing (Duane) instead of a soundalike.
      And I’ve listened to Paladin. It’s good but won’t replace The Magnifient Seven Theme in my heart.
      And yes I get what you’re saying about the Shadows. Brit boys seemed to go for them in a big way. Probably the undoing of my band. We were still retro while every other village hall outfit was doing the Shadows dance. We found playing a melody line hard enough let alone doing it with synchronised body movements. The Beatles when they came were a breath of fresh air.

Leave a Reply to Peter Viney Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

↓