Iconic Guitarist Duane Eddy, Known For ‘Twangy’ Style, Dies at 86

Instrumental ‘twang’ guitarist and trailblazer Duane Eddy died in Franklin, Tennessee, at 86. Along with a run of instrumental singles in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he became the first solo rock ‘n’ roll guitarist star. His work includes the themes of TV programs “Peter Gunn” and “Rebel Rouser.”

Eddy’s “twangy” approach was popular and groundbreaking; he played a prominent, hollow-body Gretsch 6120 model guitar, emphasizing economical, melody-based plucking on the lower strings. Countless instrumental surf combinations emerged in Southern California in the early 1960s, and younger British artists like Hank Marvin of The Shadows and George Harrison of The Beatles were immediately influenced by his straightforward, tremolo-laden sound.

Although Eddy’s success streak ended with the British Invasion of 1964–1965, his timeless songs would eventually be included in over 30 films and television series. He made memorable comebacks from time to time over the decades. According to Deed Abbate, the Grammy-winning artist’s wife, the musician died of cancer in Franklin, Tennessee, with family at his side.

His film credits include Broken Arrow, Forrest Gump, and Natural Born Killers. He was admitted to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Eddy’s unique sound significantly influenced surf bands that formed in California in the early 1960s. Later, in his superb “Born to Run” album, Bruce Springsteen paid homage to Eddy’s powerful guitar style.

The synthesizer-heavy cover of Peter Gunn by the avant-garde new wave group Art of Noise in the late ’80s was co-written by Eddy. Eddy’s short but significant comeback, reaching number ten on the UK charts and winning the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental in 1986, was also co-written by Eddy.

An anthology in box set form of Eddy’s music throughout his career was released to critical acclaim and generous sales.