“It’s a silly name for a non-silly thing": Tributes paid to "Sultan of Twang", Duane Eddy, who has died aged 86

Duane Eddy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tributes are being paid to Duane Eddy, one of the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll, whose death of cancer at the age of 86 has been confirmed.


Eddy died surrounded by family in hospital near his home in Franklin, Tennessee, on 30 April, his wife Deed Abbate told the Associated Press.

“Duane inspired a generation of guitarists the world over with his unmistakable signature ‘Twang’ sound,” a family statement reads. “He was the first rock and roll guitar god, a truly humble and incredible human being. He will be sorely missed.”

Stars from across the music world have been paying tribute to the rocker, probably still best known for his breakthrough work, especially his 1958 smash hit, Rebel Rouser.

Duane Eddy

Duane Eddy in 1958 (Image credit: Getty Images)

The instrumental track defined his sound, forever known for that dominant 'twang'. The signature sound was in place from day one, with the release of debut LP, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel.

“It’s a silly name for a nonsilly thing,” Eddy told Associated Press in 1993. “But it has haunted me for 35 years now, so it’s almost like sentimental value — if nothing else.”

In 2020, looking back on his career, Eddy told MusicRadar "I think everybody’s got their own touch and tone. I always compare it to fingerprints. Everybody’s different. Even if you play the same lick, everybody will sound different; different accent, different feel."

In tribute, Nancy Sinatra dubbed him "The Sultan of Twang," writing, "Duane was a gifted musician who blessed some of my records with his unique sound. Nobody sounded like him."

Joe Bonamassa simply called Eddy "a true pioneer and bonafide legend" while the Kinks' Dave Davies lamented "Duane Eddy was one of my most important influences. He was so important in so many ways. What did he die of? He wasn’t that old.

"Not Duane. I thought he’d live forever."

Born in 1938 in New York, Eddy played from a young age, developing his signature style of playing lead parts on the low strings as a teenager, before unleashing it on 1958 and 1959 singles Rebel Rouser and Peter Gunn. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.