#1186: The Great Duane by Ritchie Hart

Peak Month: December 1959
7 weeks on CFUN chart
Peak Position #12
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

Charles Gearheart was born in Goose Creek, Kentucky, a village near Louisville. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, when he was in high school. He was billed as Ritchie Hart on the recommendation of his local record company, Felsted. Hart had one notable attempt at having a hit record. Late in 1959 Hart had an appearance on American Bandstand to support his debut single, “The Great Duane.” The song climbed to #12 in both Phoenix and Vancouver.

 

The Great Duane by Ritchie Hart

Well if it hadn’t been for Duane and his twangy guitar,
no, things wouldn’t be the way that they are.
But I took my baby to see the great Duane,
and ever since then nothing’s been the same, he went… (instrumental guitar)
and then he rolled his dreamy brown eyes.
Well, my baby took one look and her whole body shook,
and she started running down the aisle.

Well, if it hadn’t been for Duane and his twangy guitar,
no, we never would’ve had that fight.
But I took my baby to see the great Duane,
and he stole her heart away that night. He went…(instrumental guitar)
and then he rolled his dreamy eyes around.
Well, my baby took one look and her whole body shook,
and she left me for the great Duane. And he sounded like (instrumental sax)

and then he rolled his dreamy eyes around.
Well, my baby took one look and her whole body shook,
and she left me for the great Duane. And he sounded like…

Duane Eddy was born in Corning, New York, in 1938. He started playing guitar at the age of five. When he was 13 his family moved to Tucson, Arizona. Four years later he meet a DJ at KCKY named Lee Hazelwood. The two clicked and Hazelwood got Eddy in contact with another young performer named Sanford Clark. Eddy played guitar on Clark’s Top Ten 1956 hit, “The Fool.” Duane Eddy went on to have several smash instrumental hits. His biggest were “Rebel Rouser,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road” and “Because They’re Young.” He charted 23 singles onto the pop charts in Vancouver and 15 singles in the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In “The Great Duane” the lyrics in Ritchie Hart’s song make clear that going to a concert to hear Duane Eddy could be a dangerous thing if you brought your girlfriend. The singer’s “baby” is so affected by seeing Duane Eddy that her whole body shakes. She leaves the boyfriend that night for the man on stage with the guitar. Plausibly, this is a warning to any couple who plan to hear a recording artist in concert. When your sweetheart tells you they really, really, really love the recording artist and can hardly wait to see them, maybe ask how much. Although there are groupies who follow pop stars from concert to concert, it seems extremely rare for couples to break up because the one person has left the other for a solo act on stage. Likely, listeners to the song at the time found it amusing and not a cause for panic.

In 1960, Ritchie Hart released a Johnny Cash sound-alike tune titled “I Want You.” In 1961 Ritchie Hart released a fast-paced rockabilly tune called “Vacation Time.” In 1962 Hart, backed with The Hartbeats, released an instrumental titled “Phyllis.” There was another single released that year, but none of these made a dent in the record charts.

Six years later Ritchie Hart found a musical outlet, changing his name back to Charlie Gearheart and in 1968 founding The Goose Creek Symphony. is an American rock band with roots in Arizona and Kentucky. They were formed in 1968 in Phoenix, Arizona as an outlet for the songs of Charlie Gearheart, aka Ritchie Hart, and were best known for their 1972 cover of Janis Joplin’s song, “Mercedes Benz.” The single met with regional success especially in Fort Lauderdale (#2) and Augusta, Georgia (#6). The band recorded their first album at Audio Recorders in 1968-69 and were subsequently signed to Capitol Records in 1970. They continued recording until 1976, then reformed in 1990. The band is considered one of the tightest, musically, of its genre and has continued touring to popular acclaim. In the ’70s they fit into a country rock mode, but were more esoteric than many of their contemporaries and they had a rawer, less commercial sound.

The band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Bobbie Gentry and shared the stage with Jimi Hendrix and The Allman Brothers Band among others at the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival. The band released five albums in the 1970’s and since reforming in 1990 has released eight more albums. The Goose Creek Symphony has been inducted into “The Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame” class of 2011. A road has been named after Gearhart at the mouth of Goose Creek in Kentucky: the Charlie Gearheart Highway.

The Great Duane by Ritchie Hart

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