Guitarist

Music And Silence

- Jamie Dickson Editor-in-chief

This month everyone at Guitarist was saddened by three losses close to our hearts. Firstly, we learned that Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers Band, whose obituary can be found on page 47, had died aged 80. Then, almost as we went to press, we learned with a sense of shock that Duane Eddy had also passed, aged 86. That these two greats of American guitar were so close in age seems somehow surprising – a fact that, in itself, speaks of how far and fast guitar music evolved after 1957, when a 19-year-old Duane recorded his first hit Moovin’ n’ Groovin. Gretsch in hand, Duane became essentiall­y the godfather of modern electric guitar before he was even in his 20s. The notes he played had a kind of straight-arrow authority that jumped out of the speaker and felt like the sonic equivalent of a firm handshake. The simplicity of his melodies was deceptive, however – the timing, the poise, the phrasing were perfect, each note disappeari­ng into a mirage of reverb and tremolo like heat haze over tarmac. We’ll be paying full tribute to Duane next issue, but for now it’s worth comparing the world of electric guitar that nd he ushered in with the one Dickey Betts inhabited, and made his own, just 11 years after Eddy’s debut album landed, when he became one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band. By that time, the electric guitar didn’t speak in the terse, twanging phrases of Duane’s work – it wept, wailed and moaned. In what was inarguably Bett’s best-known piece of work, Jessica, it also sang in harmony like a profane choir as it revelled in its own sense of limitless freedom. Two great players, two historic bodies of work separated by a narrow span of years but united by the guitar. I wish that I could say that these masters and the riches of their musical legacy were the worst we lost this month – and surely that would be bad enough. Tragically, we also learned, with a sense of deep loss and shock, that our dear friend and colleague Nick Guppy, the expert voice of our amplifier coverage for so many years, had died unexpected­ly. It would be impossible to think of a more knowing and passionate writer on amps than Nick, whose understate­d manner belied the strength of his highly informed opinions on tone and amp design (see obituary, page 46). I know he’ll be as sorely missed by the readers of this mag as he is by everyone here at Guitarist. This issue is respectful­ly and affectiona­tely dedicated to his memory.

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