Q&A with Duane Eddy

March 31, 2016


Fred Gretsch’s company website, Gretsch.com, recently posted a wonderful Q&A with King of Twang Duane Eddy.

In the piece, Eddy chats with interviewer Ron Denny, covering a variety of topics including his longtime career, influence on other artists, working with George Harrison, and how he feels about his Gretsch guitars.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

What circumstances led to you and George Harrison crossing paths and working together in the ’80s?

In 1986, the Art of Noise decided to do a remake of “Peter Gunn” which had been a hit for me back in 1959. So, I flew over to England with my guitar and opened up the guitar on “Peter Gunn” for the Art of Noise and it was a worldwide hit. As a result of that, I went to a few shows with them, one of which was the Montreux Rock Festival in Switzerland. Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra and I met backstage and Jeff said, “I know after this hit you’ll be doing an album and I’d love to be a part of it, whatever you’d like me to do. Write, play, produce, anything I can do to help. I’d love to do a few tracks with you.” And I said, ”Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” and took his number.

Sure enough, later that year I got an album deal with Capital Records. So I did a couple tracks with the Art of Noise, one with Ry Cooder, and then I called Jeff Lynne and said, “Well you were right, I got the album deal. Do you still want to work on some things?” He says, “I would love to Duane, but I’m working with George Harrison at the moment on his new album.” He says, “I’m just all wrapped up in that and I wouldn’t be able to.” I said, “Fine, no problem.”

I hung up and forgot about it. Twenty minutes later the phone rings and he says, “It’s Jeff. Well, I told George we were talking and I told him you just called me and asked me to help with the album, and George wants to put his album on hold and do yours, do a couple of tracks with you.” I said, “Great, we’ll be over next week.”

This was on your 1987 Duane Eddy album?

Yes. My wife Deed and I, and my ’57 Gretsch, flew over and went to George’s house and recorded three tracks with George. One of them was a song that Ravi Shankar had hummed to him. It had a flat note at the end and George said, “That’s the greatest note I ever heard.”  I said, “Yeah, that’s very interesting.” So I took that line and finished writing that part, then put in a middle part which was not weird, but rather ordinary and common to offset that weird part, and it became “The Trembler.” It was used in Natural Born Killers in a real dark scene with tumbleweeds blowing and rattlesnakes and a dust storm and all that. It was very effective.

You’re so strongly identified with your ’57 6120. How do you feel when you see another Gretsch?

Basically I just love them and it’s like coming home. It’s like seeing a family member. I don’t care where it is, if it’s in a pawnshop or a guy’s house. I’m immediately drawn to it, especially if it’s a hollow body. And, when I see a 6120, I wonder if it’s as good as my ’57, if it has that same slim neck.

Read the full piece here, and be sure to also check out a journal entry by Fred Gretsch about his relationship with Eddy here.