We are old now and grey, but we still remember those arcane names that we mumbled to each other all those years ago in dreary school playgrounds – Fender, Gibson, Guild and Gretsch, Watkins Copicat, Binson Echolette. Say them aloud and you can still hear their poetry.
We were the young disciples of Twang who, in those short years between Presley and the Beatles, had sold our sad, spotty souls to the electric guitar. We couldn’t afford them and even if we could, we couldn’t play them but that didn’t stop us. We drew pictures of them all over our schoolbooks, discussed the merits of echo units and reverberation chambers and argued about which was the most twangy – the Shadows “F.B.I” or the Ventures “Perfidia”. During the week we thumbed our bible – Bert Weedon’s ‘Play in a Day’ and on Saturdays would give praise at the Temple of Twang, our local music shop, gazing reverentially at the ranks of contoured and chromed electric guitars hanging within.
THE TWANG BIBLE
And then one rainy night in 1960 a prophet from Twang heaven, descended to earth at the Finsbury Park Empire and I was there, with an army of acned acolytes, to greet him. The curtain rose and there he was – Duane Eddy, and his band of honkers and stompers, the Rebel Rousers. He turned his amp up to ‘11’ and with one throbbing note on his maroon Guild guitar and the help of a sax player later described in the press as “The Prince of Wails” he lifted us all into heaving, baying, ululating rock ‘n’ roll heaven and we answered back. In the beginning was the Twang and the Twang was good!
DUANE EDDY – TWANG MEISTER
By 1963 it had all vanished along with the Hula Hoop, National Service and “Life with the Lyons”. George Harrison from the Beatles knocked the final nail into the twang coffin when he announced that he had never used an echo unit because he couldn’t afford one!
Now George has gone and the Beatles with him but for us balding devotees with our collections of dusty vinyl the Twang lives on, reminding us of days when you could buy a Mars bars for 6d and the sensuous curve of a cherry red Stratocaster was just as alluring and just as unattainable as Brigitte Bardot herself. The Twang is the Thang!
THE UNATTAINABLE BRIGITTE BARDOT
The writer of this piece relives those short days of twang by playing with ‘Nark Drool and the Shudders’, St Margarets very own – and only – genuine rock ‘n’ roll band. On stage he wears a red drape jacket, drainpipe trousers and a vacant smile. In the real world it might be 2009 but inside his head it is still 1960.
— from Martyn Day