"Duane Eddy was the front guy, the first rock & roll guitar god."
I'd say the first real guitar god in rock & roll was Duane Eddy. Duane was the front guy, the bandleader, and they were great songs -- it wasn't just jamming. Here was a guy who was laying down the template for how to get across to the public. So many times guys are great players but nobody ever hears about them, like a good actor in a bad movie.
The first Duane song I remember hearing was "Movin' 'n' Groovin'." It was basically a Chuck Berry riff, except the guitar sounded so much better. It has this big, high strings part -- like "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man." But then Duane came in with this other part, and I was just floored. His sound is one of those untouchable, unique things. All you have to do is tell a guitar player to sound like Duane Eddy and they'll immediately do some low-string twang thing.
I was a young, white, middle-class kid who had already listened to rhythm & blues for five years, and here was a white guy playing blues in a pop way. You didn't have to be from Mississippi and be black and fifty to do it. I could be playing it on my Sears Roebuck guitar in the eighth grade. And it sounded pretty close.