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Gretsch Artists: Chris Cheney

Chris Cheney’s musical career began in the Melbourne suburb of Wheelers Hill in the early 1990’s. Famously shirking school work in favour of 1950’s rock’n’roll, Chris picked up his first guitar in early primary school. By the time Chris reached high school, the guitar had morphed into a full blown obsession, dedicating countless hours to the mastering of 1950’s guitar licks. Chris admits that playing did not come easily to him in the early days, a powerful admission if you are at all familiar with what has transpired for him since.

Chris and fellow cohort Scott Owen began playing music together as high school boys, idolising 1950’s rock’n’rollers such as Elvis, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and legendary rockabilly kings Stray Cats. Initially playing under the moniker The Runaway Boys, Cheney, Owen and original drummer Joey Piripitzi paid their dues playing covers in local pubs and band rooms around Melbourne before changing their name to The Living End in 1996. They began writing originals, and from this point everything changed. 

Sending their demos to musical heroes Green Day, the rookie outfit scored a national support slot on their 1996 Australian tour. The newly re-named band released two successive EP’s (Hellbound and It’s For Your Own Good) before dropping what was to become the highest selling Australian single of the 1990’s; Prisoner of Society. The double A-side with Second Solution went 2 x Platinum in Australia. The self-titled album featuring the tracks went on to 5 x platinum and debuted at #1 on the ARIA charts. The record won two ARIA’s for Best Group and Breakthrough Artist (Album) in 1999.

In mid 2008 Chris was honoured with the release of his own Signature Model Gretsch Guitar As a guitarist famed for playing the classic Gretsch White Falcon for the entirety of his career, this was a colossal achievement. The signature model has all the classic Gretsch appointments fused with Chris’ custom modifications and The Living End logo emblazoned on the pick guard.

In accolades most recent, Chris was flattered with Australia’s most prestigious songwriting award. White Noise, from the album of the same name, won Chris the APRA Song of Year Award, only weeks after the single (and album) reached platinum status. Described by Rolling Stone as “one of our greatest guitarists” Chris Cheney is truly one of Australia’s most valued performers and songwriters. 

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