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William Henry "Billy" Duffy (born 12 May 1961, Hulme, Manchester)[1] is an English guitarist and songwriter, He is most well known as a guitarist for The Cult.

Billy Duffy
Billy Duffy di Cult.jpg
Duffy performing in 2011
Background information
Birth name William Henry Duffy
Born (1961-05-12) 12 May 1961 (age 56)
Hulme, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Genres Hard rock, rock, alternative rock, post-punk, heavy metal
Instruments Guitarist, songwriter
Years active 1979–present
Labels Virgin, Situation Two, Beggars Banquet, Atlantic
Associated acts The Cult, Coloursound, Theatre Of Hate, The Nosebleeds


Early daysEdit

He grew up in Manchester, where he began playing guitar at the age of fourteen. Billy enjoyed listening to groups like Queen, Thin Lizzy, The Who, Aerosmith, Blue Öyster Cult and early Led Zeppelin (due to his dislike for their later work). In the late '70s, he grew an affection for punk groups including New York Dolls, The Stooges, Buzzcocks and The Sex Pistols as well as AC/DC as he believed they were a punk group. [2] Duffy got his start playing in different punk line-ups in the late 1970s, including Studio Sweethearts[3] with former members of Slaughter & the Dogs and Eater. But these earlier years were more notable for his introducing Johnny Marr (The Smiths) to the guitar and encouraging Morrissey to make his singing debut with Duffy in The Nosebleeds.[1] Duffy's high school band practiced at the drummer's house. Johnny Marr lived across the street and would hang out listening to their rehearsals. Bassist Andy Rourke of The Smiths also went to Duffy's high school.[4][5]

Following the break up of Studio Sweethearts, Duffy moved to London, working for a time at Johnsons, the iconic clothing store on the Kings Road. Duffy eventually settled as guitarist for the moodier and more arty Theatre of Hate. He eventually met Ian Astbury (the frontman for gothic rock band Southern Death Cult) who was impressed with Duffy's playing and abandoned Southern Death Cult to start a new band with him. Together, they exploited the Southern Death Cult's success by calling themselves Death Cult. Despite some initial fanfare and a couple of singles, the band chose to shed the name in 1984 in favour of the shortened The Cult, as less artistically limiting.[1]

As early as The Cult's debut single "Spiritwalker", Duffy began establishing a distinctive flanged sound with an offbeat choice of guitar, a mid 1970s Gretsch White Falcon.

Late 1980s and 1990sEdit

Duffy helped change The Cult's sound into metal-blues for their third album, 1987's Electric.

Duffy moved to Los Angeles in 1988 with Astbury, where both remain. There, the two writing partners (with longtime bassist Jamie Stewart) turned to stadium rock and recorded Sonic Temple. The Cult reached a larger, mainstream audience, but the public's attention could not be sustained with their next album, Ceremony, at the dawn of the grunge age.

Following the 'Ceremonial Stomp' tour of 1992, Astbury pressured Duffy to return to their roots, with The Cult's The Cult album. This would ultimately lead to Astbury's departure from Duffy and The Cult in 1995.

During The Cult's four-year hiatus, Duffy played with Mike Peters of The Alarm in a project called Coloursound.[1]

Duffy plays on the title track from Japanese musician J's 1997 debut album, Pyromania.

Cult reformationEdit

Duffy reformed The Cult with Astbury in 1999,[1] which led to a new recording contract with Atlantic Records. This was capped off by a show at Atlanta's Music Midtown Festival in May 2001, where over 60,000 people watched them perform, leading up to the release of Beyond Good and Evil.

Their single to promote it, "Rise", which reached No. 125 in the US and No. 3 for 6 weeks on the mainstream rock chart, was removed from radio rotation a week after the album's release. Disappointing sales, reviews, and tour attendance ensued. In 2002 Astbury sent The Cult onto a hiatus once more, when he accepted an offer to sing with The Doors.

2006 onwardsEdit

Duffy playing his White Gretsch with The Cult in Rochester, New York

The Cult reformed in early 2006 and after playing several US concerts toured Europe. Duffy appeared in Ethan Dettenmaier's film, Sin-Jin Smyth, which was filmed in 2006, but remains unreleased.

In early 2006 Duffy recorded a debut album with his new band, Circus Diablo. The album was recorded with Duffy playing lead guitar and former Cult touring bass player Billy Morrison handling lead vocals and bass guitar duties. Former The Almighty frontman, Ricky Warwick, played rhythm guitar on the CD. The former Cult, current Velvet Revolver drummer, Matt Sorum also played on the record.

After the completion of the album, former Fuel member Brett Scallions was added to be the bassist, so Morrison could focus on being the lead singer. Then, Jeremy Colson formerly with Steve Vai, was brought in to be the full-time drummer for the band. Duffy's involvement ended in 2007.

In 2007, he was a judge on Bodog Music's Battle Of The Bands.

In 2010, Duffy appeared on the TV-series, Married to Rock, which starred his girlfriend AJ Celi. In October 2012, he performed with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony at the Cabo Wabo Cantina for Sammy Hagar's Birthday Bash in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

In an October 2016 interview with PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III, Duffy spoke about his favorite Cult song, saying "Jonesy [former Sex Pistols guitarist turned radio host Steve Jones] on Jonesy’s Jukebox just played 'Love' from the Love album and that's my favorite Cult song," he tells me proudly. "I actually got, I have to admit, a teeny bit of a goose bump because it just captured exactly what I wanted to say with that kind of haunting rock. Kind of swaggery but not heavy, it's got ... Duffy searches for the right words to express his emotion at hearing the song from the outside, "I mean nobody ... I don’t know who makes music like that!"[6]

Between 2012 and 2016, Duffy appeared with the Kings of Chaos.

Guitars and equipmentEdit

In January 2013, Gretsch introduced the Billy Duffy White Falcon G7593T guitar.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Biography by Michael Sutton". Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Studio Sweethearts". Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  4. ^ BOSS YourTone Artists — Billy Duffy Interview (published to YouTube on Nov 16, 2012 by Roland Media)
  5. ^ Johnny Marr w/Billy Duffy, telling the audience how far back their relationship goes (live@The Fillmore, SF - April 13, 2013, posted to YouTube on 4/15/2013)
  6. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (4 October 2016). "Hidden City to Hidden Cities: An Interview with the Cult's Billy Duffy". PopMatters. 
  7. ^ "Billy Duffy Gretsch G7593T Falcon Guitar | Gretsch® Electric Guitars". Retrieved 2016-09-17. 

External linksEdit