Corki Casey O'Dell, Musicians Hall of Fame Guitarist, Dead at 80

Trailblazing female guitar player backed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Duane Eddy on several early rock hits

Corki Casey O'Dell (left), who played with guitar icon Duane Eddy for several years, died May 11th at age 80. Credit: Ed Rode/Getty

Pioneering guitarist Corki Casey O'Dell, a member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Duane Eddy's band the Rebels, and herself an inductee into the Musicians Hall of Fame, died Thursday, May 11th, in Nashville, just two days shy of her 81st birthday.

Born Vivian J. "Corki" Ray Casey, she was called the "First Rock & Roll Sidechick" by the Musicians Hall of Fame, according to Music Rowwhen she was inducted in 2014 – along with Barbara Mandrell and Nashville session guitarist Velma Smith – as the organization's first three female inductees. The ceremony marked the first time in five decades that she and "Rebel Rouser" hitmaker Eddy had performed together.

In the late Fifties, O'Dell was among a contingent of rock & roll performers in Phoenix. In 1956, she joined then-husband, guitarist Al Casey, playing rhythm guitar on Sanford Clark's country, pop and R&B hit "The Fool," which would later be recorded by Elvis Presley, among others. The tune was penned by songwriter-producer Lee Hazelwood, who would use O'Dell on several of the sessions he produced. She also played on Al Casey's 1963 single "Surfin' Hootenanny," which imitated the guitar style of Eddy and other contemporary musicians.

Casey married Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Kenny O'Dell ("Behind Closed Doors," "Mama, He's Crazy") almost 50 years ago and they moved to Nashville in 1969. She is survived by her husband, three children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.