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Groundbreaking American guitarist Duane Eddy dies age 86

<i>Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Eddy pictured in 1975.
Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Eddy pictured in 1975.

By Jack Guy, CNN

(CNN) — Guitarist Duane Eddy, best known for twangy riffs on hits such as “Rebel Rouser” and “Cannonball,” has died at the age of 86, it has been reported.

A representative for Eddy confirmed to Variety on Wednesday that he had died, surrounded by his family.

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

CNN has reached out to Eddy’s representatives.

The Grammy winner was born in Corning, New York state, on April 26, 1938 and started playing the guitar at the age of five.

Eddy came to prominence in the 1950s and 60s, with a number of chart hits including “Peter Gunn” and “Because They’re Young,” showcasing his distinctive sound.

Eddy’s music was also used in movies such as “Natural Born Killers” (1994), “Forrest Gump” (1994) and “Broken Arrow” (1996).

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008.

Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, paid tribute in a statement, saying “the Duane Eddy sound will forever be stitched into the fabric of country and rock & roll.”

“Instrumentalists don’t usually become famous. But Duane Eddy’s electric guitar was a voice all its own. His sound was muscular and masculine, twangy and tough. Duane scored more than thirty hits on the pop charts,” said Young.

“But more importantly, his style inspired thousands of hillbilly cats and downtown rockers — the Ventures, George Harrison, Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen, Marty Stuart, to name a few—to learn how to rumble and move people to their core.”

Dave Davies, founder member of UK Band The Kinks, paid tribute on X on Thursday.

“I’m in shock. Duane Eddy was one of my most important influences. He was so important in so many ways,” he wrote.

Eddy was known for playing guitars made by US brand Gretsch, which also posted a statement on X.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Duane Eddy. As a legendary guitarist, he inspired generations with his pioneering twangy sound and musical innovations,” reads the post.

“His sound will forever echo in the halls of rock ‘n’ roll history.”

In 2012, Eddy told music industry publication Music Radar that aspiring musicians should be listening to music and learning to play along for a couple of hours a day.

“You gotta love the music, you gotta want to play so much it hurts, it’s gotta be your passion,” he said.

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