Thursday night, January 19—opening night of the 2017 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California—Gretsch Guitars threw one hell of a rockabilly party for 350 lucky guests.
The show, which took place off-site at the Observatory in nearby Santa Ana, was an intimate, invite-only tribute to two early rock and roll legends—Duane Eddy and the late Cliff Gallup.
In the mid- to late Fifties, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps epitomized rockabilly’s iconic image—you know, the leather jackets, ducktail hairstyles and tough guy personae. The band also introduced one of the most adept, versatile and influential electric guitarists of his generation: Cliff Gallup.
From the moment Gallup launched into Gene Vincent's “Race with the Devil” in 1956, it was clear that he was an extraordinary guitarist and unique stylist in his own right.
Oh, right; we forgot to mention that Jeff Beck was the headliner. We'll circle back to that. Here's how things went down:
The night kicked off with Canadian rockabilly shred master Paul Pigat and his band, Cousin Harley. Pigat set the tone—literally—for the night, completely rocking his DeArmond-equipped Gretsch during his blistering set. Stay tuned for more information on the mysterious new model Pigat was playing (as seen in the top photo below).
Up next, Duane Eddy—now 78—took the stage with a band that helped him capture the rough sound and kick-ass-and-take-names attitude of his early records. He played a host of Gretsch guitars, including a 6120 or two, and even dug into his new DeArmond-equipped Duane Eddy Signature Limited Edition Hollow Body. Highlights of his set included "Rebel Rouser," "Yep!" and "Shazam."
After a quick change-over, Jeff Beck—and the aforementioned Cliff Gallup Signature Duo Jet—took the stage. He and vocalist Darrel Higham, the same singer who appears on Beck's Rock & Roll Party: Honoring Les Paul DVD and album, tore through an engaging set of vintage Gene Vincent tunes, the original versions of which featured Gallup on lead guitar. The set included "Cat Man," "Race with the Devil," "Crazy Legs" and "Woman Love." Higham played his Gretsch Rancher throughout the set.
The encore was a brief but explosive I-IV-V jam featuring Beck, Eddy and Eddy's band (check out a photo above). Speaking of photos, you can check out Eric Fairchild's pics below (plus three Instagram videos). Enjoy!
For more about Gallup, his new Signature Duo Jet and more (and to hear his original guitar solos), visit gretschguitars.com/features/cliff-gallup.
A video posted by Gretsch Guitars (@officialgretsch) on Jan 19, 2017 at 11:06pm PST
A video posted by Damian Fanelli (@damianfanelligw) on Jan 21, 2017 at 5:35am PST
A video posted by Gretsch Guitars (@officialgretsch) on Jan 19, 2017 at 8:40pm PST
Bottom photo: Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City instrumental surf-rock band Mister Neutron, also composes and records film soundtracks. He writes GuitarWorld.com's The Next Bend column, which is dedicated to B-bender guitars and guitarists. His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy's Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter and/or Instagram.