Because They’re Young

I was looking at the stage watching an American man in his seventies perform his back catalogue of hits that had made him internationally famous throughout the fifties and sixties. He stood there bedecked in a cowboy hat, traditional ‘dress’ cowboy jacket and jeans that clearly betrayed the shape of a hidden pair of traditional calf length cowboy boots. The full-house in the middle of England was made up of people, some of whom had travelled from the USA and from all compass points to be there that evening, to pay, what seemed like homage, to a man that encompassed, even personified an entire era that remains the preserve of people of a certain age. Yet without the likes of this guitar ‘legend’ the shape of modern music may have sounded just a tad different and much the worse for his absence. Duane Eddy banged out hit after hit in his unique ‘twangy’ guitar style. One man behind me commented that he hadn’t realised just how many of Duane’s songs were immediately familiar to him and, to be truthful, neither had I. For my sins I had been most fortunate to interview the man via telephone the month previous in a live encounter from Nashville during which he spoke of his excitement at being on tour in the UK once again. His band for this tour had been borrowed from the British singer-songwriter Richard Hawley, with an exceptional saxophonist drafted in from Roy Wood’s band all topped off by a couple of more-than-capable female backing vocalists used for three of four numbers. All in all it was a magical experience as hits such as Rebel-Rouser, Peter Gunn, Shazam!, Ramrod, and, Because They’re Young were hammered out at a ferocious rate, enhanced by an exceptionally well chosen band of minstrels. Several times during his performance Duane made more than several references to his obvious advancing years, after all, why would so many people want to spend an evening watching a man of 74 take a trip down memory lane on his Gretsch G6120DE ‘Duane Eddy’ Signature model guitar that had been made in his honor just a year earlier? Well, the mere fact that a guitar manufacturer of such stature as Gretsch would see fit to dedicate such a beast bears testament to the impact that Eddy has had on modern music. Concerts of this nature seem to me to be more of a ‘thank you’ from a generation of people whose formative years were moulded to the sounds of Eddy, Presley, Berry, Cochran, Richard, Holly and Lewis. It’s the generation of the Dansette record player and Cliff Richard green Columbia record labels. They were the ‘real’ Happy Days or American Graffiti. It’s as if the audience wanted to finally put a face to the records in their dusty old vinyl collection. Duane Eddy is a genuine ‘legend’ of the Rock n’Roll era whose doing what he’s doing simply because he can, and, for what it’s worth, he’s still going strong!

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