My Pilgrimage to Meet Duane Eddy, by Chris Black

Hi Yer All hope this finds you well and rockin',

I heard that Duane Eddy was over in England for three gigs in October 2010 and I really wanted to shake this guys hand and thank him for his guitar playing that inspired us all when we first started playing in 1956. I managed to book into the Grande Old Opera House in York, on Wednesday the 13th of October, his last gig before he went back to Tennessee for some peace & quiet!!!

I had three original old Albums of Duane Eddy from the 50's & 60's for him to sign with all his greatest hits on, so I dug them out, polished them up, and headed off to York to hopefully meet up with my fifties mentor at long last. As I do a tribute to Duane in my C'mon Everybody Show this was going to be a very special moment for me to see the main man performing his songs live!

I didn't know what numbers he was going to play as there were no programmes on sale, no CD's or Photo's or anything at all which was a big disappointment, not just for me but also for a great many fans who had travelled many miles to see him. His last appearance in the UK was in 1991 touring with the Everly Brothers so he had changed quite a bit over the years. At least he is fit & well and still rockin', all due to playing music no doubt!

The show started at 7.30pm mainly to allow all us old rockin' gits to get home in time for our nightly cup of Horlicks and not to miss the last bus! It was a sell out with no empty seats, and an expectant hush fell as the lights went down. A guy called Pete Molinari appeared on the stage with an acoustic guitar all on his own, with no band or backing of any sort and started singing folk songs as a warm up for Duane. This went on for half an hour and then he disappeared and left us all sitting there.

It was the interval already and nobody told us how long it was going to be, so as we'd just squeezed in and sat down we didn't feel like getting up again so soon. The stage crew were all over the stage tuning up guitars pulling wires out, moving speakers, sticking set lists everywhere and sound checking the mikes. This lasted about 45 minutes after which the lights dimmed again and we were ready to go at last! It's amazing what you can get away with when you have a star on the bill !!!!

A big cheer went up and everybody clapped and gave Duane a really warm reception when he appeared on stage. He went straight into Detour playing his Gretsch Guitar with tremolo effect on and it sounded magic just like the old days. The sound guys at the back of the theatre had a battle to get a decent balance sorted out but eventually it settled down, and you could certainly tell it was all live!

Duane brought a great young tenor sax player Ron Dziubla over with him from Nashville and he was really brilliant and had done his homework on all the solo's which were a major part in most of Duane's hits. He really lifted the performance overall and he made all the songs sound authentic just like the 50's, with some great rasping solo's, most enjoyable!

Duane covered 40 Miles of Bad Road, Shazam, Yep, Movin' & Groovin', Because Their Young, The Lonely One, Peter Gunn, 3.30 Blues (my favourite) Rebel Rouser and Guitar Man. He also included a lot of tracks from his albums and a new track he is recording or has recorded with Richard Hawley's Sheffield based band.

The set lasted for 90 minutes and he sadly didn't play Dixie, which would have been a great ending. All in all it was a great performance from Duane and he brought back many great memories and I'm certainly glad that I was present to see it.

By Chris Black, October 2010
Used with permission

Duane Eddy UK pages:

Chris 'Fenderman' Black:

Duane EddyDuane Eddy

Duane Eddy was born April 26, 1938 in Corning, New York and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, around 1950 with his parents. He started playing the guitar at the age of five. By fifteen he was playing various dances around Phoenix. In 1957 he met discjockey Lee Hazlewood, who became his producer (in the late sixties Lee Hazlewood also wrote and produced for stars like Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra). Al Casey began working with Duane on his guitar style and by January 1958 Duane was looking for a recording contract. He asked Al Casey, Larry Knecktall (who played the piano) and Steve Douglas (sax) to become his back-up group. He dubbed them "The Rebels". Their first song was "Movin 'n groovin", which they recorded in Phoenix and mailed to Harry Finfer, the president of Jamie Records in Philadelphia.

This resulted in a contract with the label. It wasn't until later that summer that he had his first real hit with "Rebel Rouser". Lester Still, Lee Hazlewood's partner at the time, came up with the word "twangy", after which Duane was referred to as "Mr. Twang", or "Duane Eddy and his Twangy Guitar". Duane stayed with Jamie Records until 1962, when he left to join RCA. His instumental version of the southern traditional Dixie, which he recorded in 1961, is, even today, considered the very best version ever. "Dixie" is kind of a 'national anthem' for latter day Rock 'n' Rollers and Rockabilly Cats, because rockabilly orginated from the states beneath the Mason Dixon Line. The song has been covered by many rock 'n' roll and rockabilly bands throughout the US, Europe and Australia.