Link Wray Biography
Link Wray was a Shawnee rock and roll guitarist, songwriter, and singer who is credited with popularizing the power chord as well as “punk and heavy rock.” He began his musical career with country music before transitioning to rock-and-roll and finally instrumental rock. Link experimented with guitars and amplifiers, which had revolutionized the rock scene at the time. He began his career with his family band before signing with major record labels. He’d also made music for his own record label. ‘Rumble,’ one of his all-time best songs, is recognised as “the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists.” He was voted one of the 100 best guitarists of all time by ‘Rolling Stone.’ Films including ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Independence Day,’ and ‘Desperado’ have used his music. He was nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and 2017.
Link was born on May 2, 1929, in Dunn, North Carolina. During the Korean War (1950–53), he served in the United States Army. He developed tuberculosis and spent a year in the hospital. His stay came to an end with the evacuation of a lung, which experts predicted would prevent him from ever singing again.
The 1958 instrumental “Rumble” was Link’s first hit. It promoted “the power chord, the major mode of operation of modern rock guitarists,” allowing “punk and heavy rock” to flourish. “Link Wray & His Ray Men” released the song initially on Cadence Records (catalog number 1347) as “Link Wray & His Ray Men.” The word “rumble,” which is slang for a gang battle, was outlawed in New York and Boston for concern of inciting juvenile gang violence.
Wray was introduced to Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina by bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson while residing in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s.
He went on to form his own band, which featured Cipollina as a special guest, as well as the rhythm unit from Cipollina’s band Copperhead, bassist Hutch Hutchinson, and drummer David Weber. From May 15–19, 1974, they were the opening act for the band Lighthouse at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. He went on to perform a number of concerts and radio broadcasts in the Bay Area, including at KSAN and promoter Bill Graham’s Winterland Ballroom, with Les Lizama taking over on bass.
In the late 1970s, he toured and released two albums with retro-rockabilly performer Robert Gordon. From the 1980s until the present, there have been a slew of reissues and fresh releases. In the 1980s, one of his band members, session drummer Anton Fig, went on to become the drummer for the CBS Orchestra on David Letterman’s Late Show. He appeared on four tracks on French rocker Alain Bashung’s album Chatterton in 1994. He went on to record two new albums, Shadowman (1997) and Barbed Wire (2000).
Easy Eye Records stated in November 2017 that two previously discovered tracks, “Son of Rumble,” probably a follow-up to 1958’s “Rumble,” and “Whole Lotta Talking,” recorded in 1970, would be released.
In April 2018, the recordings were released as a 45rpm single. For RSD 2019, Easy Eye released “Vernon’s Diamond” b/w “My Brother, My Son,” a 45rpm single of newly discovered/unreleased material. “Vernon’s Diamond,” an early version of “Ace of Spades,” was recorded in 1958-59, and “My Brother, My Son” was recorded in 1970 at the same sessions as “Whole Lotta Talking.”
He had eight children from his first three marriages to Elizabeth Canady Wray, Ethel Tidwell Wray, and Sharon Cole Wray. In the early 1980s, Wray moved to Denmark.Link died of heart failure on November 5, 2005, at the age of 76, at his home in Copenhagen. He was cremated and his ashes were interred in the crypt of Copenhagen’s Christian Church.
Link Wray Discography
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Link Wray In The Hall Of Fame?
Yes, Link Wray is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 1998.
What Song By Link Wray Was Important To The Development Of Hard Rock And Heavy Metal?
“Rumble” is a 1958 instrumental rock and roll song by Link Wray & His Ray Men. The song was influential in the development of both hard rock and heavy metal music. It featured Wray’s innovative use of distortion on his guitar, which helped to pioneer the new sound. “Rumble” has been covered by many artists, including the Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Bruce Springsteen. The song was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Why Was The Song Rumble Banned?
There are a few reasons why the song Rumble by Link Wray and his Ray Men was banned from radio airplay. One reason is the violent connotation of the word “rumble.” Another reason is that the song contains an electric guitar solo that some considered to be too loud and screeching. Additionally, the lyrics of the song make reference to gangs and fighting, which also contributed to the decision to ban it from radio airplay.
What Movie Is Link Wray Rumble In?
Rumble was released in 1958 and starred Link Wray. The movie is set in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California. It tells the story of two young men who are rivals for the affections of a beautiful woman. The film was directed by John Sturges and also stars Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, and Edward Platt.
What Did Link Wray Add To The Sound Of His Guitar?
Link Wray was one of the first guitarists to experiment with feedback and distortion. He used a wah-wah pedal to create a “screaming” sound on his instrument. He also popularized the use of the power chord.