John Duck was 10 years old when he first heard Duane Eddy’s 1958 hit “Rebel Rouser.” He knew right then he’d found his calling. “It was like getting hit by a grenade,” Duck recalls. “My parents had a guitar around, and I knew a few chords, but I actually sat down and made sense of that song. You’ve got that sax in the back while the guitarist does that growl/twang thing, and the solo is just obscene. I haven’t been the same since.”
Fifty years later, he remains a devoted guitar-music listener. Every Sunday night at midnight, the Vegas-based Duck bestows his instrumental adoration onto audiences in his hometown and some 15 additional markets in the form of Dr. Duck’s Guitar Prescription, an hour of guitar-based music blending genres and eras most non-traditionally.
“I’ve just got to respect it to play it,” says Duck, who began broadcasting his weekly guitar “doses” in January on his show’s home station, KUNV 91.5-FM, directly after local mainstay The Lyon’s Den. “There’s a lot of commercial stuff that’s probably not gonna make it onto the show, and there are tunes from certain artists that you won’t expect.”
Show No. 2, for example, placed rockers Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck and Guns N’ Roses alongside old-timers Link Wray and Bo Diddley, jazzman Charlie Byrd, country player Vince Gill and flamenco/fusion maestro Ottmar Liebert. “We’re all over the map,” he acknowledges proudly. “A guy in Great Britain sent in a CD, and it’s strong. So we’re going to fit him in, right between Django Reinhardt and Herb Ellis.”
Between songs, the program relies on pre-recorded sounds—background chatter, bottles clanking and the like—to provide a party atmosphere, bolstered by banter from his “Ducky Girls.” “There’s some shtick and some schmaltz,” concedes Duck, best known for concocting Dr. Duck’s Ax Wax, a popular guitar and string treatment product that has been on the market since 1992. “I just want it to seem like there’s a live party going on here and we’re bringing the party to you.”
As a guitarist, Duck, in his words, “played with a number of people and came pretty close to making it,” but that’s in the past. These days, the good doctor is happiest when he’s prescribing a heavy diet of guitar over the airwaves, and describing his handpicked tunes with enthusiastic gusto: “‘Smoke on the Water’ … it’s a nasty lick … the way it comes on is just like Tyrannosaurus Rex just walked into the living room and he’s having a bad hair day.”