Tuesday 12 May 2020

Rock Pioneer: LINK WRAY


 2 May 1929 - 22 November 2005 

Punk-rock, Grunge, Garage, Heavy Metal and ‘rock guitar’ in general… 
 they can all trace their roots back to Shawnee Rocker Link Wray… 
 in 1958 you could buy “Rumble” on a 78rpm record. In 2005 
 you can buy the Link documentary ‘The Rumble Man’ on DVD


Link Wray perpetrated the classic “Rumble” – the original master-blaster of Rock ‘n’ Roll guitar, a huge 1958 hit he was never able to follow. There are myths and legends attached to the ‘Rumble’-man. How could there not be? – we’re talking about events half-a-century ago. Did they really blow the Diamonds off-stage with their spontaneously improvised ‘Oddball’ which they then perform a straight four times in succession? Was it a Shawnee hunting knife or – as in another telling of the tale, just a sharpened pencil-point he uses to sonically perforate his amps? Was Archie Bleyer really intent on junking the demo tape before overhearing his teenage daughter’s rave-response? And how exactly do you record on three-track… in a converted chicken-shack?

Who knows. Who cares. This is the stuff of legend. His talent may have been narrow-band, but in his ability to employ quivering distortion and shove the electric guitar into places it had never gone before, he is assured his place as an innovator. His finest tracks retain their original menace and raw power. While his influence can’t be overestimated – Pete Towshend was an early champion, ‘he is the king, if it hadn’t been for Link Wray and “Rumble”, I would have never picked up a guitar.’ John Peel also makes a point of highlighting “Rumble” on his Radio One show. Even Bob Dylan writes – in his ‘Chronicles’, of being ‘hypnotized by the tone’ of Link’s ‘classic’.

Frederick Lincoln ‘Link’ Wray Jr was born of Shawnee Native American stock in Dunn, Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1930, to impoverished semi-literate parents. His father suffered shell-shock resulting from his experiences in World War I. And the family live an itinerant life, often sleeping rough, picking up casual farm work, augmented by his mother’s street ‘brush’ preaching, while evading the Ku Klux Klan threat. ‘Elvis, he grew up white-man poor. I was growing up Shawnee poor’ Link once told an interviewer, ‘Elvis came from welfare, I came from below welfare’.

He began playing ‘geetar’ as an seven-year old kid, tutored in bottleneck-slide by black blues-man Hambone, ‘I was brought up on the blues’ he told ‘Melody Maker’, ‘– the painful music’. At age thirteen the family migrates to Portsmouth in Virginia, where - as the ‘Ranch Gang’, they play the local circuit, with his brothers Doug (drums) and vocalist ‘Lucky’ Vernon, a line-up completed by Brantley ‘Shorty’ Horton (bass) and Dixie Neale. They specialise in Western swing – ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll before it was Rock ‘n’ Roll’, doing Bob Wills and Hank Thompson songs, touring bars, whore-houses, rodeos and clubs. They name-change to ‘Lucky Wray And The Lazy Pine Wranglers’ for some AM radio, and to play back-up for visiting C&W stars. They cut some country songs too, as ‘Lucky Wray And The Palomino Ranch Hands’ in 1955, and older brother Vernon cuts some sides as ‘Ray Vernon’. Then, while doing his two-year military service in the Korean War, Link contracts tuberculosis, he’s coughing up blood. In the resulting surgery he loses a lung and doctors confidently predict he’ll never be able to sing again. What the hell do they know?

With Link home again, the group name-switches to the Ray-Men for a family move to Washington DC, and to neatly jump the Rock ‘n’ Roll juggernaut, supporting the likes of Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Ricky Nelson… and Crash Craddock! Link’s a big man, with a monumental greaser Brylcreem slick-back quiff – although his later sleeve-shots will show him tanned and deeply-lined with gaunt Indian cheekbones and long raven-black hair. With typical ingenuity he confides it’s his lack of musical ability that forces him to contrive and invent sounds. Ripping holes in his amps’ tweeters with his knife and grinding smouldering slugs of sound up and down the fretboard, creating thundering breaks later to be known as the power-chord. ‘I was looking for something Chet Atkins wasn’t doing, that all the jazz kings wasn’t doing. I was looking for my own sound.’ To journalist Max Bell the resulting discord was ‘that near fatal collision between metal and rockabilly’ (‘Vox’ May 1993).

One night, as house-band for TV’s ‘The Milt Grant Show’ (on WTTG, Channel 5) and its spin-off live ‘Record Hops’, the Ray-Men find themselves backing Doo-Wop hit-makers The Diamond (“Little Darlin’”). They’re instructed to play the headliners’ single “The Stroll” – ‘I don’t know no stroll’ protests Link, but picks up on Doug’s improvised drum-beat, and what spontaneously emerges shimmers it way into Rock ‘n’ Roll history. This is what will become “Rumble”. Cadence is a small indie label formed in Washington DC in 1953 by Archie Bleyer, best known for its seven Nashville-based million-sellers by the Everly Brothers. The story is, Archie at first declines to issue the tape they’ve made of what they originally call “Oddball”, until he overhears his teenage daughter raving about the instrumental demo. She says its harsh jagged malevolence reminds her of the ‘rumble’ gang-fight sequence in ‘West Side Story’ (1957 Broadway musical) so Archie retitles it “Rumble”. Those ‘rumble’ associations, with switch-blade juvenile delinquency as disreputable then as Hip-Hop’s ‘Gangsta’ notoriety is now, results in some disapproving radio bans on the grounds of inciting teenage violence, but it also propels it high into the chart. Entering the US Hot Hundred 12 May 1958 on a big brittle pizza-size 78rpm, it peaks at no.16 and stays listed for ten weeks.

This first Rock ‘n’ Roll wave sees itself as a music for the generationally dispossessed. The outcasts, no-goodniks and social misfits. And its ingredients are as ethnically diverse as the American ‘melting pot’ can devise. Black ‘Race Records’, Jump and R&B obviously. Fused to the music of the hillbilly ‘trailer trash’ and rural ‘poor white’. Plus the Italian-American hoodlums and Doo-Wop street-gang delinquents. And Hispanics like Ritchie Valens. But there can be no ethnic group more dispossessed than the Native Americans. And they are there too. Marvin Rainwater, a full-blooded Cherokee from Wichita, Kansas might peak no higher than no.60 on the US ‘Billboard’ chart, but his devastatingly echo-drenched “Whole Lotta Woman” takes it all the way to the UK no.1 slot 25 April 1958, and he hangs around long enough to leave an indelible mark on the rocking decade. It’s said that in amongst Link’s poorly-documented session-work there were studio cross-overs, a likelihood improved by the fact that Link’s brother takes production-credits for Marvin’s follow-up “Hey Good Looking”.

If post-war jazz is all about startling dexterity and virtuoso improvisational skills, Rock ‘n’ Roll – the bastard offspring of R&B and C&W, has got to be its polar opposite. Instinctively it’s suspicious of basic proficiency, never mind virtuosity, which is why seventies Prog-Rock strains the limits of what’s considered acceptable, why Dire Straits are suspect, not despite but because of their abilities and articulate ambition. Rock has always been more a Folk-thing valuing pick-up musical illiteracy and the inspired three-chord accident. But that’s only half the story. From explosive energy and undisciplined spontaneity can come a purity undiluted by premeditation, unhampered by intellect. An earthy visceral howl. An unfiltered connection from urge to expression, by-passing language and preconception. By bursting through frustration and incoherence, at rare moments, it can achieve levels of pure expression. A sonic assault on all that’s inexpressible. It happens rarely. An unstable combination of unpredictable elements. But when it does, its effects can be seismic.

All its classic statements, from Elvis and Gene Vincent, through the Sex Pistols and Ramones, via the Who are about that mysterious alchemy of the moment that things come unexpectedly together. Link Wray stumbles into one of its purest expressions, summoning spectres and talking in tongues. He does it once. But that’s enough. Such moments are quintessential. It’s not so much that he broke the rules, as that he didn’t know the rules were there in the first place. There’s no real logic in gouging and busting open your 40-watt speaker cabinets, it’s more a kind of raw intuition. The resulting burn of kicked-in Les Paul fuzztone distortion, fretboard scrape and wang-bar overload sounds right. Strings resonate and squeal over floorboard-stomping rhythms, with a tin-full of nails to add cymbal-FX. And it’s indefinably right. No way to quantify or rationalise it down. He certainly never did. But once it comes roaring out from what’s left of the battered amp he knows he’s found whatever it is he needs. An exact analogue of Dave Davies’ galvanic amp-demolition for the neolithic “You Really Got Me” riff. To Pete Townshend’s frustrated auto-destruction. Or Jimi Hendrix triggering squalls of techno-primitive feedback. Chances are you don’t know what you’re looking for, until you find it. It can be hoodlum dumb. But it is also egalitarian. It doesn’t have to be dumb. It also has gene-traces of both Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie. So it can be smart and cunning. Bob Dylan or Ray Davies. But “Rumble” heads more for the heart than the head, it is primal wordless expression, so crude it hurts. And – by accident or intuitive design, it is a decade ahead of its time.


When Archie Bleyer unwisely advises Link to ‘clean up his act’, Link – never less than restlessly unpredictable, ups and signs to Epic. But, despite a further hit with “Rawhide” – which enters the US chart 16 March 1959, peaking at no.23 and spending just three weeks listed, they also try neutering his style by steering him towards recording mainstream standards, when his real genius lies in creating some of the rawest crudest ear-trembling sounds ever recorded – “Ace Of Spades”, “Comanche” or “Run Chicken Run”. After leaving Epic, Link and his brothers set to converting their family chicken-coop out back of their trailer-home in arid Accokeek, twelve miles from Tucson Arizona, into a rudimentary recording studio from which they can unleash more wild instrumentals, with the background sound of croaking bullfrogs occasionally audible way back in the Ampex mix.

They briefly form their own ‘Rumble Records’ to issue three singles – including the instrumental “Jack The Ripper” (1963). Allegedly recorded on a hotel staircase to achieve the correct echo, it gets picked up by Bernie Bennink and Tony Mamarella of Philadelphia’s Swan Records, and goes on to provide the Ray-Men with final chart hit. Swan encourages a relative studio freedom Link’s other major-label encounters have denied, and his years with them prove innovative (until the label goes into liquidation in 1965). He formulates tremolo effects activated by turning a knob on his Premier amp, with occasional vocal-shots too against medical advice – sometimes modulated by hooking it through his garden hose. But despite touring the East Coast, doing TV’s legendary ‘Dick Clark Show’, while recording a wealth of low-fi material over the next five years for other labels, including Alpine, there will be no more hits. Lack of funds and poor health conspire against him. Yet despite barely scraping a living he continues as an obscurely prolific one-man social disturbance, in his own niche corner, across every decade since. Creating music that is subject to no pressures other than the need to play. He, and the Ray-Men, who at various times number Doug, Ed Cynar – who replaces Shorty Horton in 1964, Elwood Brown, Johnny Sneed and Chuck Bennett. With Link self-producing his brooding reverberating screwball excursions up the fretboard in scorching blasts of adrenalin.

His mainstream success had always been slight and frequently-interrupted, and then – for the greater part of the next decade, Wray drops from the major label scene entirely. First overtaken by the cleaner distortion-free guitar sound of the Ventures, and by the Duane Eddy ‘Twang’, then by the English vocal-group invasion that overnight renders the Ray-Men’s style obsolete. Ironically so, as it’s John Lennon, the Who, Jeff Beck, and Marc Bolan who are among his staunchest and most verbal admirers. Yet it’s precisely Link’s dogged adherence to his primal garage sound, despite changing trends, that guarantees him the minor but secure cult following that keeps him working, until it eventually full-circles back into currency. And it’s this underground word-of-mouth reputation, fuelled by gushing references to his work in interviews by these new Rock gods, that reaches the attention of English record execs, who issue the gutsily uneven ‘Link Wray’ through Polydor in 1971, and the more Country-Rock ‘Be What You Want To’ with its guest superstar sidesmen soon after. Link goes on to tour and cut two well-received albums with retro-rockabilly throwback Robert Gordon, only to resurface with Virgin for the rough-cut country-blues of ‘Beans And Fatback’. Although each of these albums has something to recommend them, it’s also true that – just because big-label money is involved, Link is never tempted to raise his game, and sees no need to alter his working methods. He enjoys his ripple of late-recognition without ever taking it too seriously or feeling he has anything to prove, or live up to. He plays and records as he’s always done, warts and all. But this renewed interest, alongside sporadic rockabilly revivals, and energetic evangelists such as Robert Gordon and the Cramps, creates a ready market for new compilations and CD reissues of rare and previously unavailable recordings from various lost back-catalogues. And Europe opens up a new audience for him, right through his final years. As devotee and website-host Greg Laxton points out ‘Punk-rock, Grunge, Garage, Heavy Metal and ‘rock guitar’ in general… they can all trace their roots to Link Wray… in 1958 you could buy “Rumble” on a 78rpm record. In 2005 you could buy the Link documentary ‘The Rumble Man’ on DVD.’

Meanwhile, brother Vernon moves west to Arizona, slicing off the back-wall of the chicken-shed studio, and taking it with him as a base for a reconstructed ‘Wray’s Shack 3 Tracks’. Kris Kristofferson, among others, record there. Brother Doug stays on in Waldorf Maryland, a businessman by day playing solo gigs in local clubs. While Link himself marries a Danish student of Native American culture – Olive Julie Povlsen, in 1979 (supposedly his third marriage, with some eight or nine children), and the following year they settle on an island off the coast of Copenhagen with their son Oliver. With Olive functioning as his manager, and a blitz of movies cinematically soundtracking his music, such as Richard Gere’s ‘Breathless’ (1983, which included his “Jack The Ripper”), ‘Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind’ (George Clooney’s 2002 movie featuring “The Swag”), ‘Pulp Fiction’ (joining other manic guitar legend Dick Dale on the 1994 soundtrack), ‘Johnny Suede’ (1991, with Brad Pitt), and Sci-Fi blockbuster ‘Independence Day’ (1996). These last fifteen years ensure the man who launched a thousand buzz-saw guitars enjoys a higher profile than at any other time since the birth of “Rumble”. The man who time-warped the guitar by sneaking proto-Heavy Metal into the fifties, tours regularly – and vigorously, across Europe and back in the States. Never less than authentic. Always real. Until he’s finally stopped by heart failure, aged 76. He dies at his home in Copenhagen, on Tuesday 5 November 2005.



May 1958 “Rumble” c/w “The Swag” (Cadence 1347)
March 1959 “Rawhide” c/w “Dixie Doodle” (Epic 9300)
August 1960 “Jack The Ripper” c/w “The Black Widow” (Swan)
Other sought-after Swan singles includes “Branded”/“Hang On”, “Deuces Wild”/“Summer Dream”, “Batman Theme” (with goonish voice-effects)/ “Alone”, “Ace Of Spades”/”Hidden Charms”, “You Hurt Me So”/”Girl From North Country” (Dylan song)
April 1962 “Big City Stomp” c/w “Poppin’ Popeye” (Trans-Atlas label)
January 1964 “The Sweeper” c/w “Weekend” (Swan)
February 1964 “Mr Guitar”, “Dinosaur”, “Rumble”, “Run Chicken Run” (Swan EP)
March 1978 “Batman” c/w “Hidden Charms” (Chiswick) plus “Little Shoes” c/w “Down In The Mine” by The Wray Family (Lawn label)


MISSING LINK SERIES’ compiled from rare acetates by US Indie Norton label ‘Vol.1 Hillbilly Wolf’ (ED210) collecting the Rockabilly roots of ‘Lucky Wray & The Palomino Ranch Gang’ through the earliest Ray-Men, with “Teenage Cutie” ( from US Starday label), “I Sez Baby” (Link’s first recorded vocal, a 1955 Kay label single), “Johnny Bom Bonnie”, “Pancho Villa”, “Hillbilly Wolf”, “Flirty Baby”, “Danger One Way Love Ahead” etc, ‘Vol.2 Big City After Dark’ (ED211) includes six live cuts circa 1961, with “Big City After Dark”, “The Bad & The Good”, “Big City Stomp”, “Rumble Rock”, “Hold It”, “The Stranger” etc, ‘Vol.3 Some Kinda Nut’ (ED212) Link & The Ray-Men with early and mid-60’s rarities, “Baby Doll”, “Run Boy Run”, “Growling Guts”, “Drag Strip”, “Hungry Child”, “Genocide” etc. Their 63-track ‘Mr Guitar’ set compiles material from all four. There’s also a highly collectible single “Vendetta” (early sixties) c/w “Facin All The Same Tomorrows” (1965 vocal demo)(45-003) and mini-LP ‘The Junior Raymen: Rumble 66’ (Norton ED213) by nephew Vern (who died soon after) with his teen combo, produced by Vernon Wray with “I’m Branded”, “Ace Of Spades”, “The Rat Fink”, “Jack The Ripper”, “Rumble ‘66”

WALKIN’ WITH LINK’ (Sony CD4728662) 20-tracks from Epic period with “Slinky”, “Ramble”, “Hand Clapper”, “Rawhide”, “Dixie Doodle”, “Studio Blues”, “Comanche”, “Right Turn”, “Radar”, “Lillian”, “Dance Contest”, “Guitar Cha-Cha”, “Rumble Mambo”, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby” (Jimmy Reed song), “Mary Anne” (Link vocals on Ray Charles song), “Oh Babe Be Mine”, “New Studio Blues”, “Walkin’ With Link” (reissued May 1993 Epic CD)

LINK WRAY AND THE RAYMEN’ (Originally Epic LN 3661 USA – 1959, Edsel ED149 - 1985) tracks drawn from the Epic archive with “Dixie-Doodle” (with Duane Eddy-style ‘rebel yells’), “Ramble”, “Caroline”, “Rawhide”, “Right Turn”, “Golden Strings”, “Comanche”, “Hambone” (tribute to Link’s earliest guitar tutor), “Mary Ann”, “Rumble Mambo”, “Ain’t That Loving You Baby”, “Slinky”, “Hand Clapper”, “Lillian”, “Radar”, “Studio Blues” (also issued under the title ‘Rockin’ And Handclappin’)

GROWLING GUITAR’ (Big Beat/ Ace WIK65 – September 1987) tracks from the Swan catalogue, with “Climbing A High Wall” (‘a one-take monster of a recording’ says ‘Record Collector 168’, using wah-wah pedal), “Genocide”, “The Earth Is Crying”, “Growling Guts”, “Hungry”, “Ace Of Spades ‘69”, “Ruby Baby”, “Hang On”, “Summer Dreams”, “Sorrento”, “Peggy Sue”, “Alone”, “Girl From The North Country”, “You Hurt Me So”, “The Fuzz” (re-issued May 1991 with bonus ‘Live In ‘85’ tracks)

JACK THE RIPPER’ (Swan SLP 510 USA – 1963, reissue Line LLP5187, Germany – 1982, Hangman June 1990) with “Mr Guitar”, “My Beth”, “Deacon Jones”, “Steel Trap”, “Cross Ties”, “Jack The Ripper”, “Ace Of Spades”, “Hidden Charms”, “Fat Back”, “Run Chicken Run”, “Dinosaur”, “Big Ben”, “Mash Potato Party”, “I’ll Do Anything For You”, “Rendez-Vous”, “Slinky”

THERE’S GOOD ROCKIN’ TONIGHT’ (Union Pacific UP002 – August 1973, Ace CH69 - 1982) 17 tracks from Cadence, Epic and Swan from 1957-1965 compiled by Union Pacific label-boss Ian Sippen who died in 1973, with the original “Rumble”, its B-side “The Swag” from Cadence (1958), plus 13 1963/4 sides from Swan Records, “Deuces Wild”, “Mustang”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Law Of The Jungle”, “Blueberry Hill” “Run Boy Run”, “Honky Tonk”, “The Sweeper”, “Hound Dog”, “That’ll Be The Day”, “Zip Code”, “Scatter”, “El Toro”, “Tijuana”, “Rumble Mambo”, “Jack The Ripper”, “Black Widow”, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (vocal version of Roy Brown hit), “Batman Theme”, “I’m Branded”, “Hang On”, “Ace Of Spades”, “Alone”, also re-issued as ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble’ (Charly CR30171 – 1979)

LINK WRAY: THE EARLY RECORDINGS’ (Chiswick/ Ace CH6 - 1978)14 tracks from 1963-’65, with “Batman Theme”, “Ace Of Spades”, “Cross Ties”, “Jack The Ripper”, “Hidden Charms” (vocal version of Willie Dixon song), “I’m Branded”, “The Shadow Knows”, “Fat Back”, “Run Chicken Run”, “Black Widow”, “Scatter”, “Turnpike USA”, “Mr Guitar”, “Rumble”. ‘Apart from Bo Diddley, no contemporary of Wray’s ever coaxed meaner, nastier noises out of a guitar’ writes Charles Shaar Murray (‘NME’ 6 May 1978)

GREAT GUITAR HITS OF LINK WRAY AND THE RAYMEN’ (Vermillion LP1924 USA – 1967) + ‘Link Wray Sings & Plays Guitar’ (Vermillion LP1925 USA – 1968)

YESTERDAY AND TODAY’ (Record Factory LP1929 USA – 1969)

LINK WRAY’ (Polydor 24-4064 – August 1971) produced and part co-written with Steve Verroca, with Billy ‘Juke Box’ Hodges pno, Bobby Howard mandolin, Doug Wray drs, and Link gtr, dobro, bass, vocals, includes the single “Fire & Brimstone” c/w “Juke-Box Mama” plus “Take Me Home Jesus”, “Black River Swamp”, “The Rise & Fall Of Jimmy Stokes”, “La de da”, “Fallin’ Rain”, “Ice People”, “God Out West”, “Crowbar”, “Tail Dragger”. Richard Williams writes ‘this is probably the ultimate down-home album, recorded on the little three-track machinery in Wray’s Shack’ (‘Melody Maker’)

MORDICAI JONES’ (Polydor PD5010 – 1971) Mandolin player on Link’s ‘Beans & Fatback’ solo album, with Link Wray participation

BE WHAT YOU WANT TO’ (Polydor PD5047 – 1973, reissued on CD 2005) in country-Rock style, recorded in California, with Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane’s Peter Kaukonen, Commander Cody and others guesting, produced by Thom Jefferson-Kaye, includes the single “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” c/w “Shine The Light” plus “Be What You Want To”, “All Cried Out”, “Tucson Arizona”, “Riverbed”, “You Walked By”, “Walk Easy Walk Slow”, “All The Love In My Life”, “You Really Got A Hold On Me”, “Morning”

BEANS AND FATBACK’ (Virgin V2006 – October 1973) produced and all co-written with Steve Verroca but for traditional “Georgia Pines” and “Take My Hand”, recorded at ‘The Shack, USA’, includes the single “I’m So Glad” c/w “Shawnee Tribe” plus “Water Boy”, “Beans & Fatback”, “Hobo Man”, “Alabama Circus”, “From Tulsa To North Carolina”, “Right Or Wrong”, “In The Pines”. ‘A fine album… as raw as chapped legs, as grizzly as a brown bear, its spirit is strong, its flesh barely covers its white-hard bone’ (Geoff Brown ‘Melody Maker’)

THE LINK WRAY RUMBLE’ (Polydor 2391128 - 1974) with Pete Townshend liner notes. Tracks later compiled on 1996 ‘Guitar Preacher: The Polydor Years’ (Polydor 527 717-2)

STUCK IN GEAR’ (Virgin V2050, March 1976) Link’s first UK-recorded album, eight tracks including a version of “Jack The Ripper” caught live at the London Lyceum, plus “Southern Lady”, “Tecolote”, “Quicksand”, “I Know You’re Leaving Me Now”, “Did You See The Man”, “Midnight Lover”, “Cottoncandy Apples”, “Bo Jack”

ROBERT GORDON WITH LINK WRAY’ (Private Stock PS2030 – August 1977) one of two album collaborations, features The Wildcats (Billy Cross gtr, Rob Stoner – formerly of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder bass, Howie Wyeth drs, Charlie Messing gtr). Richard Gottehrer – formerly of 60’s Strangeloves pno and production. Recorded at Plaza Sound NY, includes the single “Red Hot” c/w “Sweet Surrender” plus “Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll” (the Billy Lee Riley hit, as is ‘Red Hot’), “I Sure Miss You”, “Lit’s In The Bottle”, “Woman”, “Is This The Way”, “Summertime Blues”, “The Fool”, “Boppin’ The Blues” (Carl Perkins). The other Robert Gordon collaboration is ‘FRESH FISH SPECIAL’ (Private Stock Records PVLP1038 - 1978) includes the singles “Fire” c/w “If This Is Wrong” and “The Way I Walk” c/w “Sea Cruise” plus “Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache”, “Five Days”, “I Want To Be Free”, “Twenty Flight Rock”, “Lonesome Train”, “Blue Eyes”

THE GUITAR ALBUM’ (Polydor 2482382 – 1977) compilation includes Link doing Willie Dixon’s “Tail Dagger”

BULLSHOT’ (Charisma CAR 1143 /Visa Records – June 1979) with Alpha Band stalwarts Rob Stoner bass, Howie Wyeth drs, Billy Cross rhythm, Anton Fig drs, Chris Robinson keys, plus producer Gottehrer, includes single “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” (Dylan song) c/w “Just That Kind Of Switchblade” (instrumental), plus “Fever”, “Good Good Lovin’”, “Rawhide”, “Snag”, “Wild Party”, “Don’t” (originally done as a demo guide-track for Robert Gordon), “The Sky Is Falling”

LIVE AT THE PARADISO’ (Passport PB2014, Canada – 1980, Europe-only CD, Visa 7010 USA – 1980) with Anton Fig drs, Jimmy Lowell bass, including “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Ace Of Spades”, “Walk Away From Love”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Run Chicken Run”, “She’s No Good”, “Rumble”, “Rawhide”, “Subway Blues”, “Money”, “Shake Rattle & Roll”, Bebop A Lula”

LINK WRAY: LIVE IN ‘85’ (Big Beat WIKM42 - 1986) recorded during a US tour through January and February with Keith Lentin bass, Marty Feier drs, including his final gig in the Washington DC area – at the ‘Wax Museum’ with “Rumble”, “It’s Only Words”, “Fire”, “Mystery Train/ I Got A Woman/ Baby Let’s Play House”, “Jack The Ripper”, “Love Me”, “King Creole”, “I’m Counting On You”, “Rawhide”, “Born To Be Wild”, re-issued as 2-for-1 with ‘GROWLING GUITAR’ as Ace CDWIK972

BORN TO BE WILD: LIVE 1987’ (CD - 1987)

LINK WRAY: THE RUMBLE MAN’ (Ace CH266 – 1988) recorded in one night for Ace’s Ted Carroll, with “Draggin’”, “Bull Dawg”, “Aces Wild”, “Street Beat”, “Honest, I Swear Somebody Lied”, “The Rumble Man”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry”, “Big City Walk”, “I Will Be Home Again”, “Copenhagen Boogie”, “The Thrill Of Your Love”

THE ORIGINAL RUMBLE + 22 OTHER INSTRUMENTALS’ (Ace CDCH924 – 1989) 23 thunderous guitar instrumentals, including “Rumble”, “The Swag”, “Batman (Theme)”, “Ace Of Spades”, “Jack The Ripper”, “I’m Branded”, “Fat Back”, “Run Chicken Run”, “Turnpike USA”, “Deuces Wild”, “Mustang”, “Blueberry Hill”, “Run Boy Run”, “The Sweeper”, “Hound Dog”, “That’ll Be The Day”, “The Fuzz”, “Rawhide”, “Draggin’”, “Aces Wild”, “Bull Dawg”, “The Rumble Man”, “Copenhagen Boogie”

APACHE: WILD SIDE OF THE CITY LIGHTS’ (Ace CDCHD931 - 1989) two complete 1989 albums, + bonus track, includes Link’s raw take on the Jerry Lordan-penned Shadows’ hit, plus vocals “Big Boss Man” and “Beautiful Brown Eyes”, plus “The Wild One”, “Dallas Blues”, “Shawnee”, “The Joker”, “Stars & Stripes Forever”, “Green Hornet”, “Dick Tracy Private Eye”, “Hotel Loneliness”, “Raunchy”, “The Flying Wedge” (a homage to drag-racing), “Don’t Leave Me”, “American Sunset”, “Little Sister”, “Love Me Tender”, “Wild Side Of The City Lights”, “Viva Zapata”, “As Long As I Have You”, “Street Beat” With Bruce Brand (harmonica and drums). Produced by Wray

INDIAN CHILD’ (May 1993 Sony Denmark EPC473100 Europe-only CD/ imported by Ball Products, a Creation affiliate) ten tracks includes two recorded for a 1985 MTV-special, “Rumble” and the vocal “Trying To Find Your Love”, plus others recorded with Danish backing band Shaky Ground (Kim Hyttel keys, Flemming Nilsson percussion, Jan Mols rhythm, Carsten Egholm bass, Erik Lodberg drs), with “It Was Elvis” (vocal, ‘I wrote ‘It Was Elvis’ because the kids only remember the fat Vegas Elvis who died. That’s not Elvis. This is Elvis, the young Elvis, the progressive Elvis, the Sid Vicious Elvis, the boy with guts’ he tells ‘Record Collector’ August 1993), plus “Torture”, “Guitar-Man From New Orleans”, “God’s Little Baby”, “Indian Child”, “Saving All My Love”, “Bring On The Night”, “I Apologise”, “Diamonds & Pearls”. Some lyrics by wife Olive. As ‘Neanderthal as anything that ever crawled out of a swamp’ says ‘Vox’

WALKING DOWN A STREET CALLED LOVE’ (1996 – Cherry Red/ Visionary) live set with tribute-to-Elvis medley, “Jailhouse Rock/ Young And Beautiful”, issued with the video ‘RUMBLEMAN’ 

SHADOWMAN’ (Ace CDCHD638 - 1997) with “Timewarp” (a souped-up version of “Rawhide”), “I Can’t Help It” (vocal on Hank Williams song), plus savage instrumentals

BARBED WIRE’ (Ace Records – 2000 CD) Link ‘unplugged’, acoustic guitar and vocals

SLINKY: THE COMPLETE EPIC SESSIONS’ (2004 double-CD compilation)





Link Wray material can also be heard on the soundtrack of ‘Desperado’, ‘Twelve Monkeys’, ‘This Boy’s Life’, ‘Blow’… and ‘Taco Bell’ TV-ads. While the ‘Wray Collective’, and Link himself were involved in recording “Hide And Go Seek”, a 1962 US Top 40 solo hit for ‘Bunker Hill’ aka David Walker of the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, for 1955 RCA sides by Dick Williams, and some seventy other singles (including ‘Ray Vernon’s 1957 Cameo-label version of “Remember You’re Mine”, covered into the charts by Pat Boone), as well as an A&M album by avant-garde band Eggs Over Easy…

A current TV-ad for confused.com uses ‘Rumble’

with discographical thanks to:

Published on ‘Peace & Freedom’ website ‘booksmusicfilmstv’: http://www.booksmusicfilmstv.com/AndrewDarlington/LinkWray.htm
(January 2006)


William Eddie said...

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Tina Willis said...

Lurve Ur Rockin' BLOG Bro.

And, would Lurve session/release date info plze on Link's o-riginal "Mr Guitar" Swan album?

Lurve, X.