Taking a look at the 60s sound of the “fuzz guitar”

Imagination Connoisseur, Joey Coke, shares his passion for and interest in 60s-era, classic rock sound known as the “Fuzz Guitar” and his favorite guitar-slinging, film composer of the time, Davie Allan.

Hi Rob (and P.G.S),

Hey, the other day there was a letter you read from a guitar student who wrote of playing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Theme and on one of your subsequent shows you were wearing an A.I.P. logo on your tee, so I thought I’d write in and say a few things about my favorite guitar slinging film composers, Davie Allan, a.k.a. King Fuzz.

While he did front a touring band, Davie Allan and the Arrows, Mr. Allan may be known best for for the instrumental opening theme song, “Blue’s Theme”, from the 1966, Corman directed biker movie, The Wild Angels, which starred Peter Fonda as, “Blue”. This song was released as a single and hit #37 on the Billboard charts that same year. It’s a pretty primitive, riff-based song, with a simple 1-4-5 progression that clocks in at a little over two minutes, but it did perhaps introduce hip listeners to the amazing sound of the, Fuzz Guitar.

Most early fuzz boxes contained a germanium transistor that was the main ingredient to this square wave effect producing a buzzsaw sound that spits and sputters as the notes decay. This is in contrast to the sound of silicon transistor fuzz boxes that produced a a violin-like sustained fuzz sound as heard in a song such as, Jimi Hendrix’, Purple Haze. The silicone transistor fitted boxes produce a more musical sound, whilst the germanium transistor turned that guitar signal into a beautiful Godzilla fart.

You can’t play chords with this effect though, single note riffs only, maybe some double-stops, but Davie mastered these things. Over the course of the late-60’s he composed more soundtracks for Mr. Corman/A.I.P. films such as, just to name a few, Devils Angels, The Born Losers and one of my favorite theme songs from, The Glory Stompers, which is actually a vocal tune, but really highlights some of the advancement King Fuzz made in his writing and producing(with Mike Curb), in particular was his use of multi-tracking fuzzed out melodies played at different octaves that sounded in synch with 60’s psychedelic trajectory.

Definitely a pioneer in electric guitar heroics, his discography is full of amazing sounds from another time and place. Also worth mentioning was his involvement with the short film, Skaterdater, from 1965, in which he performed the song, Skaterdater Rock. What’s special about this skateboard short film was that it won the Palm d’Or award for short films at the 1966 Cannes Film Fest and was an Academy Award nominee. It’s a fun time warp of a film showing off skateboarding and SoCal in the mid-Sixties, as well as new camera technics.

So, that’s my brief Davie Allan and the Arrows biker fuzz primer and here’s the opening sequence of The Wild Angels…

Stay Fuzzed, Rob!

-Joey Coke

P.S. Hail Dwight Frye!

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