Link Wray

Link Wray

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Fred Lincoln "Link" Wray Jr (May 2, 1929 – November 5, 2005) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 guitarist
Guitarist
A guitarist is a musician who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar while singing.- Versatility :The guitarist controls an extremely...

, songwriter
Songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

 and occasional singer.

Wray was noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars, as exemplified in his hit 1958 instrumental
Instrumental
An instrumental is a musical composition or recording without lyrics or singing, although it might include some non-articulate vocal input; the music is primarily or exclusively produced by musical instruments....

 "Rumble", by Link Wray and his Ray Men, which pioneered an overdriven, distorted electric guitar sound. He also "invented the power chord
Power chord
In music, a power chord is a chord consisting of only the root note of the chord and the fifth interval, usually played on electric guitar, and typically through an amplification process that imparts distortion...

, the major modus operandi
Modus operandi
Modus operandi is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as "mode of operation". The term is used to describe someone's habits or manner of working, their method of operating or functioning...

of modern rock guitarist," "and in doing so fathering," or making possible, "punk
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 and heavy rock
Hard rock
Hard rock is a loosely defined genre of rock music which has its earliest roots in mid-1960s garage rock, blues rock and psychedelic rock...

". Rolling Stone included Link at number 67 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Early life


Wray was born in Dunn, North Carolina
Dunn, North Carolina
Dunn is a city in Harnett County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 9,196 at the 2000 census.It is the birthplace of early an rock and roll guitar player, Link Wray, and General William C. Lee, father of the American Army Airborne. The city's slogan is "It's all right here." The...

 to Fred Lincoln Wray and his wife Lillian M. Coats. Link first heard the slide guitar
Slide guitar
Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the guitar. The term slide refers to the motion of the slide against the strings, while bottleneck refers to the original material of choice for such slides: the necks of glass bottles...

 technique at age eight from a traveling carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

 worker nicknamed "Hambone." Link's family moved to Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

, where his father worked in the U. S. Navy shipyards during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. In 1956, the family moved to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, and finally to a farm in Accokeek, Maryland
Accokeek, Maryland
Accokeek is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States, located about 8.5 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The population was 7,349 at the 2000 census. It is home to Piscataway Park....

. Link Wray and his brother Vernon went west to Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 early 1970s, settling in San Francisco several years later.

Wray served US Army during the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, and contracted tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 that eventually cost him a lung. The doctors said he would never be able to sing again, so he concentrated on guitar work. Nevertheless, on his rare vocal numbers he displays a strong voice and a range equal to that of Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

Native American ancestry


Claiming to be part Shawnee
Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

 Indian, Wray frequently spoke of this in performances and interviews. Three songs he performed were named for American Indian tribes: "Shawnee", "Apache", and "Comanche." "Apache" was an instrumental composed by Jerry Lordan
Jerry Lordan
Jerry Lordan , born Jeremiah Patrick Lordan in Paddington, west London, was an English songwriter, composer and singer.-Career:...

; it was a hit in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 for The Shadows
The Shadows
The Shadows are a British pop group with a total of 69 UK hit-charted singles: 35 as 'The Shadows' and 34 as 'Cliff Richard and the Shadows', from the 1950s to the 2000s. Cliff Richard in casual conversation with the British rock press frequently refers to the Shadows by their nickname: 'The Shads'...

 in 1960. Wray recorded a cover of verson 30 years later, when it was also associated with The Ventures
The Ventures
The Ventures is an American instrumental rock band formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington. Founded by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, the group in its various incarnations has had an enduring impact on the development of music worldwide. With over 100 million records sold, the group is the best-selling...

 and the Incredible Bongo Band
Incredible Bongo Band
The Incredible Bongo Band, also known as Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band, was a project started in 1972 by Michael Viner, a record artist manager and executive at MGM Records. Viner was called on to supplement the soundtrack to the virtually anonymous B film The Thing With Two Heads. The...

.

Career


After his discharge from the Army, Wray and his brothers Douglas and Vernon joined with their friends Shorty Horton and Dixie Neal to form Lucky Wray and the Lazy Pine Wranglers, later called Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands. They had been playing country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 and Western swing
Western swing
Western swing music is a subgenre of American country music that originated in the late 1920s in the West and South among the region's Western string bands...

 for several years when they were hired as the house band on the daily live television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 show Milt Grant's House Party, a local Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 version of American Bandstand
American Bandstand
American Bandstand is an American music-performance show that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989 and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as producer...

. They made their first recordings in 1956 as Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands for Starday Records.

"Rumble"



For the TV show, they also backed many performers, from Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, Jr. is an American R&B and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. He was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Creole was his first language....

 to Ricky Nelson
Ricky Nelson
Eric Hilliard Nelson , better known as Ricky Nelson or Rick Nelson, was an American singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and actor...

. In 1958, at a live gig of the D.C.-based Milt Grant's House Party, attempting—at the urging of the local crowd—to work up a cover sound-alike for The Diamonds
The Diamonds
The Diamonds are a Canadian vocal quartet who rose to prominence in the 1950s and early 1960s with sixteen Billboard hit records. The original members were Dave Somerville , Ted Kowalski , Phil Levitt , and Bill Reed .-1950s:...

' hit, "The Stroll
The Stroll
The Stroll was both a slow Rock 'n' Roll dance and a song that was popular in late 1950s. The dance called the Stroll began in black communities to the song "C. C. Rider" by Chuck Willis prior to the song by the same name....

", they came up with an eleven and one half bar blues titled "Rumble" which they first 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
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

 Archie Bleyer
Archie Bleyer
Archie Bleyer was an American song arranger, bandleader, and record company executive.-Early life:He was born in the Corona section of the New York City borough of Queens. He began playing the piano when he was only seven years old...

 of Cadence Records
Cadence Records
Cadence Records was an American record company based in New York City. It was founded by Archie Bleyer, who had been the musical director and orchestra leader for Arthur Godfrey in 1952...

, who hated it, particularly after Wray poked holes in his amplifier's speakers to make the recording sound more like the live version (see "Rocket 88
Rocket 88
"Rocket 88" is a rhythm and blues song that was first recorded at Sam Phillips' recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee, on 3 March or 5 March 1951...

" for Ike Turner
Ike Turner
Isaac Wister Turner was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, talent scout, and record producer. In a career that lasted more than half a century, his repertoire included blues, soul, rock, and funk...

's similar story). Searching for a title that would hit home with radio listeners, Bleyer sought the advice of Phil Everly, who listened and suggested that it be called "Rumble", as it had a rough attitude that reminded him of a street gang. (Rumble: slang
Slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

 for "gang fight".)

The stalking, menacing sound of "Rumble" (and its title) led to a ban on several radio stations, a rare feat for a song with no lyrics, on the grounds that it glorified juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency
Juvenile delinquency is participation in illegal behavior by minors who fall under a statutory age limit. Most legal systems prescribe specific procedures for dealing with juveniles, such as juvenile detention centers. There are a multitude of different theories on the causes of crime, most if not...

. Nevertheless it became a huge hit, not only in the United States, but also Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, where it has been cited as an influence on The Kinks
The Kinks
The Kinks were an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in 1964. Categorised in the United States as a British Invasion band, The Kinks are recognised as one of the most important and influential rock acts of the era. Their music was influenced by a...

, The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

, and Jimmy Page among others. Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
James Patrick "Jimmy" Page, OBE is an English multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and record producer. He began his career as a studio session guitarist in London and was subsequently a member of The Yardbirds from 1966 to 1968, after which he founded the English rock band Led Zeppelin.Jimmy Page...

 cites the song in the Davis Guggenheim documentary It Might Get Loud
It Might Get Loud
It Might Get Loud is a documentary by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. It explores the history of the electric guitar, focusing on the careers and styles of Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. The film received a wide release on August 14, 2009 in the U.S...

and proceeds to play air guitar
Air guitar
Playing air guitar is a form of dance and movement in which the performer pretends to play rock or heavy metal-style electric guitar, including riffs, solos, etc. Playing an air guitar usually consists of exaggerated strumming and picking motions and is often coupled with loud singing or lip-synching...

 to the song in the movie. Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend
Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English rock guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and author, known principally as the guitarist and songwriter for the rock group The Who, as well as for his own solo career...

 stated in unpublished liner notes for the 1970 comeback album, "He is the king; if it hadn't been for Link Wray and 'Rumble,' I would have never picked up a guitar." In other liner notes in 1974, Townshend said, of "Rumble": "I remember being made very uneasy the first time I heard it, and yet excited by the savage guitar sounds."

Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
Geoffrey Arnold "Jeff" Beck is an English rock guitarist. He is one of three noted guitarists to have played with The Yardbirds...

, Duff McKagan
Duff McKagan
Michael Andrew "Duff" McKagan is an American musician and writer. He is best known for his twelve-year tenure as the bassist of the hard rock band Guns N' Roses, with whom he achieved worldwide success in the late 1980s and early 1990s...

, Jack Rose
Jack Rose
Jack Rose may refer to:* Jack Rose , a classic cocktail* Jack Rose American gambler and underworld figure in NYC* Jack Rose , American guitarist...

, Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
James Patrick "Jimmy" Page, OBE is an English multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and record producer. He began his career as a studio session guitarist in London and was subsequently a member of The Yardbirds from 1966 to 1968, after which he founded the English rock band Led Zeppelin.Jimmy Page...

, Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter...

, Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and...

, Cub Koda
Cub Koda
Michael "Cub" Koda was an American rock and roll singer, guitarist, songwriter, disc jockey, music critic, and record compiler. Rolling Stone magazine felt that Koda was best known for writing the song "Smokin' in the Boys' Room", which reached #3 on the 1974 Billboard charts as performed by...

, Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan was an English singer-songwriter, guitarist and poet. He is best known as the founder, frontman, lead singer & guitarist for T. Rex, but also a successful solo artist...

, Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

 and Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 have all cited Wray as an influence. Billy Childish
Billy Childish
Billy Childish is an English artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist...

 has covered several Link Wray tracks, including "Rumble", "Jack the Ripper" and "Comanche", which he still performs in his set. The 1980 Adam and the Ants
Adam and the Ants
Adam and the Ants were a British rock band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The original group, which existed from 1977 to 1980, became notable as a cult band marking the transition from the late-1970s punk rock era to the post-punk and New Wave era...

 song "Killer in the Home" (from their Kings of the Wild Frontier
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Kings of the Wild Frontier is a New Wave album by Adam and the Ants, released in 1980 . This album introduced the new Burundi drum sound. After having his previous backing band wooed away by producer Malcolm McLaren, who used them to form Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant recorded Kings of the Wild Frontier...

album) is based on the same ominous, descending three-chord glissando
Glissando
In music, a glissando is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, to glide. In some contexts it is distinguished from the continuous portamento...

 riff that is featured in "Rumble" (Ants' guitarist Marco Pirroni
Marco Pirroni
Marco Francesco Andrea Pirroni is an English guitarist, songwriter and record producer...

, an avid Wray fan, has described the song as "Link Wray meets Col. Kurtz" — the latter being a reference to Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American war film set during the Vietnam War, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The central character is US Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard , of MACV-SOG, an assassin sent to kill the renegade and presumed insane Special Forces...

). Mark E. Smith
Mark E. Smith
Mark Edward Smith is the lead singer, lyricist, frontman, and only constant member of the English post-punk band The Fall.-Early life:...

 of The Fall sang the line "I used to have this thing about Link Wray, I used to play him every Saturday, God bless Saturday" in the song "Neighbourhood of Infinity" on the album Perverted by Language
Perverted by Language
Perverted by Language is a 1983 album by The Fall. It was the first Fall album to feature Brix Smith, then wife of Mark E. Smith, who performs lead vocals on "Hotel Blöedel"...

. "Rumble" has also been used as an intro theme to TV shows, particularly the original incarnation of Svengoolie
Svengoolie
Svengoolie is the name of a character from a long-running series of locally-produced television programs in the Chicago, Illinois metropolitan area...

.

In 2003, Link Wray was ranked at number sixty-seven in Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

magazine's list of the Hundred Greatest Guitarists of all time, but has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

. He is, however, a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame was established on the internet on March 21, 1997, to present early rock and roll history and information relative to the artists and personalities involved in this pioneering American music genre....

.

Later career


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
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as 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. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s, Link was introduced to Quicksilver Messenger Service
Quicksilver Messenger Service
Quicksilver Messenger Service is an American psychedelic rock band, formed in 1965 in San Francisco.-Introduction:Quicksilver Messenger Service gained wide popularity in the Bay Area and, through their recordings, with psychedelic rock enthusiasts around the globe and several of their albums ranked...

 guitarist John Cipollina
John Cipollina
John Cipollina was a guitarist best known for his role as a founder and the lead guitarist of the prominent San Francisco rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service...

 by bassist James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson (musician)
James "Hutch" Hutchinson is an American bassist best known for his work with Bonnie Raitt.-Early life:James Hutchinson grew up in Cambridge and Somerville Massachusetts.- Career :...

. He subsequently formed a band initially featuring special guest Cipollina along with the rhythm section from Cipollina's band Copperhead, bassist Hutch Hutchinson and drummer David Weber. They opened for the band Lighthouse
Lighthouse (band)
Lighthouse is a Canadian rock band formed in 1968 in Toronto which included horns, string instruments, and vibraphone; their music reflected elements of rock music, jazz, classical music and swing...

 at The Whisky a Go Go
Whisky a Go Go
The Whisky a Go Go is a nightclub in West Hollywood, California, United States. It is located at 8901 Sunset Boulevard, on the Sunset Strip.-History:...

 in Los Angeles from May 15–19, 1974. He later did numerous concerts and radio broadcasts in the Bay Area including KSAN (FM) and the Bill Graham
Bill Graham (promoter)
Bill Graham was an American impresario and rock concert promoter from the 1960s until his death.-Early life:...

 venue, Winterland Ballroom
Winterland Ballroom
The Winterland Ballroom, often referred to as Winterland Arena or simply Winterland, was an old ice skating rink and 5,400-seat music venue in San Francisco, California...

 with Les Lizama later replacing Hutchinson on bass. He toured and recorded two albums with retro-rockabilly
Rockabilly
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s.The term rockabilly is a portmanteau of rock and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style's development...

 artist Robert Gordon
Robert Gordon (musician)
Robert Gordon is an American rockabilly musician. Gordon rose to fame performing in several genres including alternative rock, punk rock, and rock and roll.- Early days:...

 in the late 1970s. The 1980s to the present day saw a large number of reissues as well as new material. One member of his band in the 1980s, drummer Anton Fig
Anton Fig
Anton Fig , known as "The Thunder from Down Under" is a session drummer, noted for his work in David Letterman's house band, the CBS Orchestra. Letterman often refers to Fig as "Anton Zip"or "Buddy Rich Jr."...

, later became drummer in the CBS Orchestra
CBS Orchestra
The CBS Orchestra is the house band, led by Paul Shaffer, that plays for David Letterman's CBS late-night talk show, Late Show with David Letterman...

 on the David Letterman
David Letterman
David Michael Letterman is an American television host and comedian. He hosts the late night television talk show, Late Show with David Letterman, broadcast on CBS. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC...

 show. 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. Backed by a Dutch band consisting of Eric Geevers on bass and Rob Louwers on drums, Wray toured Europe and Australia as well, documented on a live album and DVD. Link's last new recording was 2000's 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 "colorful" Irish born road manager John Tynan. His regular backing band in the USA from 1998 until 2003 were bassist Atom Ellis
Atom Ellis
Atom Ellis, , is a bass guitarist from San Francisco, California. Atom was a founding member of the Thrash Funk band Psychefunkapus from 1986-1992 and a member of the San Francisco band Dieselhed from 1993-2000...

 and drummers Danny Heifetz
Danny Heifetz
Danny Heifetz is an American musician of Jewish descent usually living in Sydney, Australia. He is primarily a drummer and percussionist, but also plays trumpet...

 (Mr. Bungle
Mr. Bungle
Mr. Bungle was an experimental band from Northern California. The band was formed in 1985 while the members were still in high school and was named after a children's educational film. Mr. Bungle released four demo tapes in the mid to late 1980s before being signed to Warner Bros. Records and...

, Dieselhed
Dieselhed
Dieselhed was a San Francisco-based band, originally from Arcata, California.-Early career:Dieselhed formed in 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area playing a blend of country, punk, and pseudo-classic rock. Drummer Heifetz spread his time between Dieselhed and the genre-bending experimentalists Mr....

) and Dustin Donaldson (I Am Spoonbender
I Am Spoonbender
I Am Spoonbender is an American/Canadian multimedia group formed in San Francisco in early 1997 by composer/multi-instrumentalist/producer Dustin Donaldson, with Brian Jackson and cub guitarist Robynn Iwata I Am Spoonbender is an American/Canadian multimedia group formed in San Francisco in early...

, various). He continued to tour up until four months before he died.

His music has been featured in numerous films, including Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction (film)
Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino, who co-wrote its screenplay with Roger Avary. The film is known for its rich, eclectic dialogue, ironic mix of humor and violence, nonlinear storyline, and host of cinematic allusions and pop culture references...

, Desperado
Desperado (film)
Desperado is a 1995 action thriller film written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The film stars Antonio Banderas as the former mariachi who seeks revenge on the drug lord who killed his lover....

, Independence Day
Independence Day (film)
Independence Day is a 1996 science fiction film about an alien invasion of Earth, focusing on a disparate group of individuals and families as they converge in the Nevada desert and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance counterattack on July 4 – the same...

, Twelve Monkeys
Twelve Monkeys
12 Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La jetée, and starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer....

, The Warriors, This Boy's Life
This Boy's Life (film)
This Boy's Life is a 1993 film adaptation of the memoir of the same name by Tobias Wolff. It is directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Tobias Wolff, Robert De Niro as stepfather Dwight Hansen, and Ellen Barkin as Toby's mother, Caroline...

, Blow
Blow (film)
Blow is a 2001 biopic about the American cocaine smuggler George Jung, directed by Ted Demme. David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes adapted Bruce Porter's 1993 book Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All for the screenplay. It is based on the real...

, Johnny Suede, The Shadow
The Shadow
The Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally in pulp magazines, then on 1930s radio and then in a wide variety of media, that follow the exploits of the title character, a crime-fighting vigilante in the pulps, which carried over to the airwaves as a "wealthy, young man about town"...

, Breathless
Breathless (1983 film)
Breathless is a 1983 American drama film starring Richard Gere and Valérie Kaprisky. It is a remake of the 1960 French film À bout de souffle and was released in France under the title A Bout de Souffle Made in USA. The original film is about an American girl and a French criminal in Paris...

, Roadracers
Roadracers
Roadracers is a 1994 made-for-television film directed by Robert Rodriguez, his second feature film following the success of his 1992 debut, El Mariachi...

, and Pink Flamingos
Pink Flamingos
Pink Flamingos is a 1972 transgressive black comedy film written, produced, composed, shot, edited, and directed by John Waters. When the film was initially released, it caused a huge degree of controversy and thus became one of the most notorious cult films ever made. It made an underground star...

. His instrumental "Rumble" is featured in It Might Get Loud
It Might Get Loud
It Might Get Loud is a documentary by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. It explores the history of the electric guitar, focusing on the careers and styles of Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. The film received a wide release on August 14, 2009 in the U.S...

(2008).

Link Wray is among the many Wray/Rays mentioned in the 1998 Top 40 hit "Are You Jimmy Ray?
Are You Jimmy Ray?
"Are You Jimmy Ray?" is a single co-written and performed by British pop singer Jimmy Ray from his 1998 self-titled debut album. The single entered the Billboard Pop Songs chart on March 7, 1998 and eventually peaked at #10. The song peaked at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart...

" by singer Jimmy Ray
Jimmy Ray
Jimmy Ray is an English pop-rock musician. In press interviews and promotional materials he cited his influence by the music of Elvis Presley and other rock and roll stars such as Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Tommy Steele...

 (along with Johnnie Ray
Johnnie Ray
Johnnie Ray was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Popular for most of the 1950s, Ray has been cited by critics as a major precursor of what would become rock and roll, for his jazz and blues-influenced music and his animated stage personality.-Early life:John Alvin Ray was born in...

 and Fay Wray
Fay Wray
Fay Wray was a Canadian-American actress most noted for playing the female lead in King Kong...

).

Later life



Wray moved to Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 in the 1980s after marrying his wife Olive, a Danish student who had been studying Native American culture. He spent his last years on a Danish island, touring frequently until he died of heart failure at 76 in 2005 at his home in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. He was buried in the crypt of the Christian's Church
Christian's Church, Copenhagen
Christian's Church is a magnificent Rococo church in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen, Denmark. Designed by Nicolai Eigtved, it was built 1754–59....

, in the Copenhagen suburb of Christianshavn
Christianshavn
Christianshavn is an artificial island neighbourhood located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from...

.

According to a note added by Deborah Wray on his Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame was established on the internet on March 21, 1997, to present early rock and roll history and information relative to the artists and personalities involved in this pioneering American music genre....

 page, Link Wray had married four times and was survived by nine children: Fred Lincoln Wray III, Link Elvis Wray, Shayne Wray, Elizabeth (Beth) Wray Webb, Mona Kay Wray Tidwell, Bellinda Wray Muth, Rhonda Wray Sayen, and Charlotte Wray Glass. Print and online obituaries have only mentioned the wife and son he was living with at the time of his death, Olive and Oliver Christian Wray.

Wray was backed by members of the Seattle band Jet City Fix for the duration of his penultimate tour. His final tour was booked and managed by Marc Mencher of Action Packed Events. Link's drummer on the tour was Gary Weiss of the rockabilly band Vibro Champs; he was backed on bass by Kris Day. The Vibro Champs website features photos and video of Link's last band tour.

Posthumous recognition


Despite his North Carolina birth, Maryland's governor Robert Ehrlich
Robert Ehrlich
Robert Leroy "Bob" Ehrlich, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 60th Governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007. A Republican, he became governor after defeating Democratic opponent Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a member of the Kennedy family, 51% to 48% in the 2002 elections...

 declared January 15 to be Link Wray Day.

On March 25, 2006 Link was honored by "The First Americans in the Arts" with the Life Time Achievement Award.

On June 8, 2006, Link was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame.

In June 2009, the Library of Congress added "Rumble" to the National Recording Registry
National Recording Registry
The National Recording Registry is a list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States." The registry was established by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, which created the National Recording...

.

On July 2, 2010, the Smithsonian Institute Museum of the Native American opened the exhibit "Up Where We Belong - Native Musicians in Popular Culture", in which Wray is one of 12 artists presented. The exhibit features Link's Danelectro
Danelectro
Danelectro is an American manufacturer of musical instruments and accessories, specializing in rock instruments such as guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and effects units.-History:...

 guitar along with a rare video featuring the original Raymen - Link, brothers Doug and Vernon, and Shorty Horton - performing "Rawhide". This film has not been shown publicly for over half a century. The exhibit closes January 2, 2011 and may be scheduled to continue for a six month run in New York.

Film and books about Link


A documentary film on Link's life and career is currently in production.

Singles

Release date A-side
A-side and B-side
A-side and B-side originally referred to the two sides of gramophone records on which singles were released beginning in the 1950s. The terms have come to refer to the types of song conventionally placed on each side of the record, with the A-side being the featured song , while the B-side, or...

B-side
A-side and B-side
A-side and B-side originally referred to the two sides of gramophone records on which singles were released beginning in the 1950s. The terms have come to refer to the types of song conventionally placed on each side of the record, with the A-side being the featured song , while the B-side, or...

Label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

Catalog number US
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

April 1958 "Rumble" "The Swag" Cadence 1347 16
January 1959 "Raw-Hide" "The Dixie-Doodle" Epic
Epic Records
Epic Records is an American record label, owned by Sony Music Entertainment. Though it was originally conceived as a jazz imprint, it has since expanded to represent various genres. L.A...

5-9300 23
June 1959 "Comanche" "Lillian" Epic 5-9321
October 1959 "Slinky" "Rendezvous" Epic 5-9343
1959 "Vendetta" (as Ray Vernon) "Roughshod" "Scottie" NRS-3020
March 1960 "Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" "Golden Strings" (based On A Chopin Etude) Epic 5-9361
October 1960 "Ain't That Lovin' You Babe" "Mary Ann" Epic 5-9419
July 1961 "Jack The Ripper" "The Stranger" Rumble 1000 64
August 1961 "El Toro" "Tijuana" Epic 5-9454
1962 "Big City After Dark" "Hold It" (as Ray Vernon & the Raymen) Mala
March 1962 "Big City Stomp" "Poppin' Popeye" Trans Atlas
March 1963 "Rumble Mambo" "Hambone" Okeh
Okeh Records
Okeh Records began as an independent record label based in the United States of America in 1918. From 1926 on, it was a subsidiary of Columbia Records.-History:...

4-7166
April 1963 "The Black Widow" "Jack The Ripper" Swan
Swan Records
Swan Records was a mid-20th century United States based record label, founded in 1957, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It had a subsidiary label called Lawn Records....

S-4137
September 1963 "Week End" "Turnpike U.S.A." Swan S-4154
November 1963 "Run Chicken Run" "The Sweeper" Swan S-4163
March 1964 "The Shadow Knows" "My Alberta" Swan S-4171
July 1964 "Deuces Wild" "Summer Dream" Swan S-4187
February 1965 "Good Rockin' Tonight" "I'll Do Anything For You" Swan S-4201
1965 "I'm Branded" "Hang On" Swan S-4211
1965 "Girl from the North Country" "You Hurt Me So" Swan S-4232
1965 "Ace of Spades" "The Fuzz" Swan S-4239
1966 "The Batman Theme
Batman Theme
"Batman Theme", the title song of the 1966 Batman TV series, was composed by Neal Hefti. The song is built around a guitar hook reminiscent of spy film scores and surf music. It has a twelve bar blues progression, using only three chords until the coda...

" (with Bobby Howard)
"Alone" Swan S-4244
1966 "Ace of Spades" "Hidden Charms" Swan S-4261
1967 "Let the Good Times Roll" (with Kathy Lynn) "Soul Train" Swan S-4273
1967 "Jack The Ripper" "I'll Do Anything For You" Swan S-4284
1977 "Red Hot" 83
May 1979 "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" "Just That Kind" Charisma CB-333

Albums

Release date Title Label Catalog Number
1960 US Link Wray & The Raymen Epic LN 3661
1962 US Great Guitar Hits by Link Wray Vermillion V-1924
1963 US Jack The Ripper Swan S-LP 510
1964 US Link Wray Sings and Plays Guitar Vermillion V-1925
1963/2006 Link Wray Early Recordings Rollercoaster/Ace
1971 US Link Wray
Link Wray (album)
Link Wray is the self-titled 1971 album by pioneer Rock & Roll guitarist, and Shawnee Indian Link Wray. The album was recorded in an old chicken shack on Wray's Maryland farm, and is a passionate blend of Blues, Country, and Folk rock elements...

Polydor
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

PD-24-4064
1971 US Mordicai Jones
Mordicai Jones
Mordicai Jones is the 1971 album by pioneer Rock & Roll guitarist, and Shawnee Indian Link Wray. The music is a blend of Blues, Country, and Folk rock. The standout tracks are "Walkin' in the Arizona Sun", "All Because of a Woman", "Son of a Simple Man", and "Days Before Custer"...

 (w/ Bobby Howard)
Polydor
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

PD-5010
1972 US Be What You Want To
Be What You Want To
Be What You Want To is the 1973 album by pioneer Rock & Roll guitarist, and Shawnee Indian Link Wray. The album was recorded in 1972 with many guest musicians, including Jerry Garcia, Commander Cody, and David Bromberg.-Track listing:...

Polydor
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

PD-5047
1973 US Beans and Fatback
Beans and Fatback
Beans and Fatback is the 1973 release by pioneer Rock & Roll guitarist, and Shawnee Indian Link Wray. The album was recorded in 1971 in an old chicken shack on Wray's Maryland farm. The music is a blend of Blues, Country, and Folk rock...

(rec. 1971)
Virgin
Virgin Records
Virgin Records is a British record label founded by English entrepreneur Richard Branson, Simon Draper, and Nik Powell in 1972. The company grew to be a worldwide music phenomenon, with platinum performers such as Roy Orbison, Devo, Genesis, Keith Richards, Janet Jackson, Culture Club, Lenny...

V-2006
1974 US The Link Wray Rumble Polydor
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

PD-6025
1975 US Stuck in Gear
1979 US Bullshot Visa VISA 7009
1979 US Live at the Paradiso
1990 UK Apache
1990 UK Wild Side of the City Lights
1993 DE Indian Child
1997 US Shadowman
Shadowman
Shadowman or Shadow Man may refer to:*Shadow people, creatures of both modern folklore and paranormal popular culture*Shadowman , a comic book series from Valiant Comics...

1997 UK Walking Down a Street Called Love - live
2000 US Barbed Wire

Compilation albums

Release date Title Label Catalog Number
1969 US Yesterday and Today Record Factory LP 1929
May 1993 Rumble! The Best of Link Wray Rhino Records
Rhino Entertainment
Rhino Entertainment Company is an American specialty record label and production company. It is owned by Warner Music Group.-History:Rhino was originally a novelty song and reissue company during the 1970s and 1980s, releasing compilation albums of pop, rock & roll, and rhythm & blues successes...

2002 Mr. Guitar Norton Records
Norton Records
For the Canadian independent record label of the same name, see Matt Minglewood.Norton Records, a New York City based independent record label founded by musicians Miriam Linna and Billy Miller, maintains a focus on primitive, retro rock'n'roll, rockabilly, garage punk, garage rock, lounge music...

2003 Hillbilly Wolf - Missing Links Volume 1 Norton Records
Norton Records
For the Canadian independent record label of the same name, see Matt Minglewood.Norton Records, a New York City based independent record label founded by musicians Miriam Linna and Billy Miller, maintains a focus on primitive, retro rock'n'roll, rockabilly, garage punk, garage rock, lounge music...

2003 Streets of Chicago - Missing Links Volume 4 Norton Records
Norton Records
For the Canadian independent record label of the same name, see Matt Minglewood.Norton Records, a New York City based independent record label founded by musicians Miriam Linna and Billy Miller, maintains a focus on primitive, retro rock'n'roll, rockabilly, garage punk, garage rock, lounge music...

2006 Big City After Dark - Missing Links Volume 2 Norton Records
Norton Records
For the Canadian independent record label of the same name, see Matt Minglewood.Norton Records, a New York City based independent record label founded by musicians Miriam Linna and Billy Miller, maintains a focus on primitive, retro rock'n'roll, rockabilly, garage punk, garage rock, lounge music...

2006 Some Kinda Nut - Missing Links Volume 3 Norton Records
Norton Records
For the Canadian independent record label of the same name, see Matt Minglewood.Norton Records, a New York City based independent record label founded by musicians Miriam Linna and Billy Miller, maintains a focus on primitive, retro rock'n'roll, rockabilly, garage punk, garage rock, lounge music...

2007 King of the Wild Guitar Ace Records UK B000PATZPQ

With Robert Gordon

Release date Title Label Number
1977 UK Robert Gordon w/ Link Wray
1978 UK Fresh Fish Special Private Stock
Private Stock Records
Private Stock Records was a record label which was started in 1974 by Larry Uttal after he was ousted from Bell Records. The label had hit records with singles by David Soul of Starsky and Hutch fame , Starbuck , Austin Roberts , Samantha Sang , Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band , and Frankie...

PS 7008

External links