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Monday, 2 May 2016

Link Wray born 2 May 1929

Fred Lincoln "Link" Wray Jr (May 2, 1929* – November 5, 2005) was an American rock and roll guitarist, songwriter and vocalist who became popular in the late 1950s.
Wray was noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars, as exemplified in his hit 1958 instrumental "Rumble", by Link Wray and his Ray Men, which pioneered an overdriven, distorted electric guitar sound, and was the first guitarist to use power chords to play a song's melody.
Wray was born in Dunn, North Carolina of part Shawnee Indian ancestry to Lillie M. Norris and Frederick ("Fred") Lincoln Wray. It was there that Link first heard slide guitar at age eight from a travelling carnival worker, named "Hambone". Link and his family later moved to Norfolk, Virginia as his father got work in the Navy shipyards. Link served a hitch in the US Army and was a Korean War Veteran. In 1956, his family later moved to Washington, D.C., and from there, they moved to a farm in Accokeek, Maryland. Link relocated to Arizona with his brother Vernon in the very early 1970s, and later moved to San Francisco in the mid 1970s.
Wray was a veteran of the Korean war, where he contracted tuberculosis that ultimately cost him a lung. His doctors told him that he would never sing again. So Link concentrated on his heavy guitar work. Despite this, on his rare vocal numbers he displays a strong voice and a range equivalent to Clarence "Frogman" Henry.
After discharge from the Army, Wray and his brothers Doug and Vernon Wray, with friends Shorty Horton and Dixie Neale, formed Lucky Wray and the Lazy Pine Wranglers, later known as Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands. They had been playing country music and Western swing for several years when they took a gig as the house band on the daily live TV show Milt Grant's House Party, a Washington D.C. version of American Bandstand. The band made their first recordings in 1956 as Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands for Starday Records.
For the TV show, they also backed many performers, from Fats Domino to Ricky Nelson. At a live gig in Fredericksburg, VA, attempting to work up a backing for The Diamonds' "The Stroll", they came up with the stately, powerful 12-bar blues instrumental "Rumble", which they originally called "Oddball". The song was an instant hit with the live audience, which demanded four repeats that night.

Eventually the song came to the attention of record producer Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records, who hated it, particularly after Wray poked holes in his amplifier's speakers to make the recording sound more like the live version. However, Bleyer's stepdaughter loved it and it was released despite his protest. She was the one who suggested renaming the song "Rumble", because it reminded her of West Side Story. Rumble is slang for a "gang fight". The record was banned in New York and Boston for fear it would incite teenage gang violence. Before, during and after his stints with major labels Epic and Swan, Wray released 45's under many names.
The band had several more hard-rocking instrumental hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Rawhide", "Ace of Spades", and "Jack the Ripper", the latter named after a "dirty boogie" dance popular in Baltimore at the time. The dirty boogie dance was among the several dance crazes featured in the 1988 film Hairspray.
After his initial hits, Wray's career had periods of retirement followed by renewed popularity, particularly in Europe. He toured and recorded two albums with retro-rockabilly artist Robert Gordon in the late 1970s. The 1980s to the present day saw a large number of reissues as well as new material. Inspired by the use of his songs in various feature films, the 1997 "Shadowman" album is generally regarded as the Rumble Man's return to his raw rock'n'roll roots. Wray toured Europe and Australia as well, documented on a live album and DVD.
Link's last new recording was 2000s "Barbed Wire", again recorded with his Dutch rhythm section. He was generally accompanied on tour by his wife Olive Julie, and since the late nineties his "colourful" Irish born road manager John Tynan.

His regular backing band in the USA from 1998 until 2003 were bassist Atom Ellis and drummers Danny Heifetz  and Dustin Donaldson. He continued to tour up until four months before he died of heart failure, aged 76, in 2005, at his home in Copenhagen.. (info edited from Wikipedia. * Some sources give birth year as 1935) 

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Rumble – The Best of Link Wray” go here:

1. Rumble
2. The Swag
3. Raw-hide
4. Dixie-doodle
5. Rumble
6. Ain't That Loving You Baby
7. Jack The Ripper
8. The Black Widow
9. Big City After Dark
10. Run Chicken Run
11. The Shadow Knows
12. Deuces Wild
13. Hang On
14. Ace Of Spades
15. I'm Branded
16. Batman Theme
17. Climbing A High Wall
18. Switchblade
19. Hidden Charms
20. Jack The Ripper ( Live Version)

This set contains original recordings of 20 rockers, all fast, furious and inventive. There is the breakthrough single `Rumble', the creepy `The Shadow Knows' and a great version of the Batman theme. Most of them are instrumentals, with the occasional vocal thrown in.
Thanks to PJ @ downunderground.blogspot for original link.