M. I want to start out asking you questions about Link Wray, I think that’s really
important because you are so obviously influenced by him.
E. Well I can start off by telling you my Link Wray Story. How I first became
aware of him and stuff.
M. O.K. that’s great.
E. In 1973 I was living in California, In LA, I moved out there to write songs with this
friend of mine who I met out there, his name was Dave Bloom. We kind of felt like
kindred sprits and we could writ songs together. So while I was out there, he was
working at a restaurant. He came home one day and he said, “Hay, I got a gig
playing with this guy named Link Wray,” I said “ Oh really. Well get me into the
band I’ll be rhythm guitar player” because I knew nothing about Link Wray at that
point. I may have heard Rumble, but I didn’t know his music. So I got into the band
playing rhythm guitar.
Link had just done an album on polydor called “Be What You Want to Be” so, it
was released… and there were great reviews. People were talking about him like a
legend and someone who influenced Pete Townsend, so I’m like “Wow that’s
So I got to meet Link. We rehearsed in this garage in North Hollywood; there was
this kind of Punk Garage music going on.
Then I hung out with him at his apartment a few times and he told me lots of great
But months went by and no tour motorized. So I wound up in the meantime
moving back east.
My friend Dave actually went out and toured to promote the album, but not much.
That was my first encounter with Link Wray.
Then later in the 70’s whenever I’d mentioned that I played with Link Wray, people
would look at me like. What is that? …Like link Sausage or something?
I guess they thought I was totally square.
So then flash forward to 1980 when I came to DC to play with Tex.
Before every show Tex would play a tape of early Link Wray music.
M. Tex told me when he was 17 years old (in the early 1960’s) that he use to go and
see Link Wray down at Benny’s Rebel Room in DC.
E. Tex totally turned me on to the coolness factor of Link Wray in 1980. He is how I
became such a fan of Link Wary.
I had met Link but I still didn’t know. I hadn’t heard “Jack the Ripper” for instance.
So in 1980 I was playing with Tex. One day he had an idea, and he said, “ We
should do a couple of guitar instrumentals” My first reaction was “ Oh no man,
that would be totally square.”
M. You got to be kidding me. That just shows how Tex could size you up.
E. Well I thought it was strange because, you gotta understand when I started
playing the guitar that’s what I first learned, was guitar instrumentals… you know
the ventures and wipe out… I wasn’t far enough removed form that yet, so to me
that was like playing the stuff I played as a Kid, You know.
But Tex totally had the vision.
I don’t really know anybody who played guitar instrumentals in the 80’s. There
might have been some people in New York and some bands doing it in California,
but by in large playing instrumentals was pretty out there.
M. Tex is so totally DC. A lot of the music that you guys played was the typical
music that you could have heard in any give club in the city in say 1962.
E. That’s very cool. That I’ve got that on me, you know.
M. The music in DC in the late 50’s and early 60’s - there were a lot of people that
passed through, but there was a pretty big group of musicians that lived around
here and made a pretty good living at it too. The military brought in all the big
names of the era and so did Connie B. Gay, Arthur Godfrey, Milt Grant, for there TV
shows, and latter the DJ’s, for their shows. While those musicians were here they
all would play at the local clubs, some times for months at a time. There were
songs that were popular around here, and all of the bands played them. Link Wray
was the house band on the milt grant show, and he also played had steady gigs at
some biker bars as well as the Places like the Silver Spring Armory, the
Bladensburg Fire House and the Hyattsville Armory …
Link Wray had such an influence on the music around here. He played around
here for so long.
You can listen to the music of Roy Buchanan, Roy Clark, and find the Link Wray
influence. Their early music all gives a nod to Link Wray. There were so many
clubs in DC back then, the musicians would all go up and down the block and
visit, sit in and play, and they all influenced each other. If you listen to the
recordings of those guys from that era all together you can really hear it.
I think that’s a thing that Tex remembered from his youth. When the music he was
listing to really ignited him. That ‘s what was happening in DC.
Unfortunately DC in like this little encased situation. You could be the king of the
world in DC- and as soon as you set foot out side of DC- nobody knows what in
the hell you are talking about.
E. Right, Right. Well you know what. I think one of the reasons for that is DC is
kind of unique in that you can make a pretty good living there, you know it’s a
wealthy area, and the people are very supportive, so you can actually make a
living as a musician, but that’s good in the short run but bad in the long run. I see
DC as the total opposite of Nashville. When you go to Nashville, no one is going to
care about you. No one is going to help you. No one will care about your talent
even if you are great. But if you get something started there then it’s a real going
concern. You can get started there but you have to take it out into the world. To
survive. If it does survive then it’s going to make it. It’s on good footing. There are
other places like DC. Austin is kind of like DC. It’s real nurturing, a nice place to be,
but it’s a trap at the same time. Because you never leave Austin. I know of so
many talented people and great bands in Austin, but nobody ever hears of them,
M. Well, that’s what DC use to be like, It’s not even that now. I mean culturally we
are like the sinkhole of the world. There are like 3 clubs to play in and the rest are
all DJ’s, it really sucks.
E.Well that’s pretty much happening everywhere.
M. Is that True? That’s something I wanted ask you about, because you get
around to see so much of the country, and the world, that you get a better feel for
what is happening culturally today.
E. Things are pretty, bad, I don’t know if there are going to keep getting worse. All
the things we grew up with are changing.
M. Yea, it’s a bad change, I don’t really know what that actually signifies, but I think
it is hurting our culture.
E. Yea I think so too. I don’t want to go too far down that road though.
I wanted to ask you if you were aware of any of the music from this area, the
sound that developed here, before you came down to DC (from Albany NY)?
E. Well, the main thing I knew about was from the Star Spangled Washboard Band
playing at the Child Harold in the mid 70’s. It was always a great gig. It was always
fun, you were sure to meet girls and that sort of thing. The other thing that really
struck me is that the audience was so loyal. They would remember you. Even If
you had been off the radar for a while.
M. That is so important, because you don’t have to reestablish yourself every time
E.That’s very unusual. It was such a loyal audience, I played there with the
washboard ban in 75,76 and when I came there in 80, there were people who
remembered me from then, that was very unusual. I always associated DC with
bluegrass music. It always struck me as the beginning of the south.
M. Well, you know for a time DC was conceded the Bluegrass capitol of the
country. For at least a point in the 60’s.
E. I'll tell you this, When I first moved to DC I had never heard Danny Gatton. I had
heard of him though, and I had this attitude, I thought to myself, Ah, he can’t be
that good. Then I got to town, and with in about the first month I was there, I got
down to Georgetown and saw him play with Billy Hancock and my mind was
blown. I went to Tex and said “Tex, Why did you hire me when you could have
Danny Gatton?” Tex said “ I don’t want Danny Gatton in my band. I don’t want any
musicians in my band” It’s funny because it hurt my feeling at the time…
(chuckling) but now…
M. (Laughing) now I guess you have a different viewpoint.
E.Well Tex wanted a rock and roll band.
M. I think he wanted a specific sound. He was looking for that link Wray type dance
band sound. You have that sound, Danny Gatton was more along the lines of the
Jazz swing sound – like Jimmy Bryant – the original electric guitar players, The
virtuoso kind of playing, You play earthy, dirty, like Link Wray.
Link Wray and
Time in DC