“Mohawk Mike” McAfee plays guitar because of Gretsch, it’s that simple. When McAfee wanted to move from an acoustic to an electric guitar as a teen, his father told him he’d have to learn “Rebel Rouser” by Duane Eddy first. He’d never heard of Duane Eddy but grudgingly put the record on to learn “his dad’s music.” From the first bend, it was over. Duane Eddy WAS guitar to McAfee, and that’s still true today. Gretsch is what Duane plays, so McAfee began saving his money that day. He currently owns eleven Gretsch guitars!
Based out of Louisville, Kentucky, McAfee assembled the band, Eight Inch Elvis, in 1998. The end game was to play in front of as many people as possible. Big crowds and success ensued but the style of music wasn’t in his heart. After reforming Eight Inch Elvis in 2016 as a rockabilly show band, this change in direction proved to me more satisfying to McAfee’s soul. Celebrities, governors, and crowds of up to 40,000 have danced and sang along with the group. They’ve been contracted to write theme songs for television shows and annual festivals. But 2020 marks the debut release of Eight Inch Elvis original music on vinyl!
Like many of his heroes, McAfee is covered in tattoos. Unlike most, his includes the signatures of Duane Eddy, Brian Setzer, and the one-and-only Fred Gretsch. McAfee takes great pride in talking about Gretsch and what it means to him. He not only plays the guitars but also sells them at the music shop he runs. His band uses Gretsch guitars and basses. It’s more than a guitar, it’s inspiration.
Photos by Joel Jackson.