Link Wray Music:
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Link Wray was born in Dunn, North Carolina and grew up in Arizona. That is where he first t heard slide
guitar, at age 8 from a black player named "Hambone".
Link Wray was in the mikitary durring the Korean war, where he contracted tuberculosis. He lost a lung
because of the disease. he was adviesd not to sing so he devoted him self to his guitar.
Link and his brothers Doug and Vernon Wray originally had a band that played country music and
Western swing. then they were offred a job as the house band on Milt Grant's House Party, a Washington
version of American Bandstand. They had the oppertunity to play with many rock and roll greats from
Fats Domino to Ricky Nelson. In the late 50's the band performed at record hops and teen functrions
through out the DC arera. They could frequently be seen at places like the Silver Spring Armory, the
Hyattsville Armory, Glen Echo Park, and the Bldensburg Firehouse.
At one of these hops "Rumble" was conceived.
Famously, at one point Milt Grant requested that Link play The Diamonds' "The Stroll", Link responded "I
don't know any strolls" . Non Plused, Grant asked Link if he knew anything like" The Stroll" Doug Wray
thought he knew what Grant wanted, so he cut in with a beat. Link had little chioce but to go along with it.
He improvised "Rumble " (which at first he called "Oddball"). The song was an hit with the live audience,
which demanded four repeats that night.
The song came to the attention of record producer Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records in Philadelphia,
who was not impressed, particularly after Wray poked holes in his guitar speakers to make it sound more
like the live version . Bleyer's daughter loved it and renamed after West Side Story. She talked her dad
into releasing the song as a single by Link Wray and his Raymen on the Cadence label.
It was a huge hit in the United States and in Britain, where it has been cited as an influence on groups
like the Yardbirds and The Who. In the US it stayed on the top 40 for 10 weeks. It ultamatly reached no.
16 on Billboard in 1958.
"Rumle" is the first recorded instance of fuzz-tone.
The band had several more hard driving instrumental hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including
"Rawhide" "Ace of Spades", and "Jack the Ripper". "Jack the ripper " was named for a "dirty boogie"
dance popular in Baltimore in the early 60's ( reaching #64 on the Billboard charts)
IIn 1961 Link Wray decided that his band would do better financially if it concentrated on Washington DC's
club scene. They played a nightclub called Vinnie's located at 10th and H Street. It was a hard-core biker
bar. Though Link Wray never subscribed to that kind of lifestyle, the bars clientele embraced His music.
When the band was not playing at Vinnies they played one niters at other DC night Clubs like Benny's
Rebel Room, the Rocket Room, the Shelter Room and Rands. Occasionally they played Glen Echo Park
and the Bladensburg Fired Department.
In 1963 the Wray family moved to Accokeek Maryland. Their house was equipped with a recording studio.
Using a Shark Three Track recorder, the family started making records. They put out more that 80 singles
and 20 albums under a verity of names on obscure labels. The majority of Link Wray and the Wray men
records were put out on the Black Swan label
In 1964, Vinnie's nightclub closed. Link Wray moved over to the 1023 club in South East. Link Wrays
Biker fowling moved over to the 1023 club too.
For more interesting history about Link Wray in DC please refer to Capitol Rock By Mark Opasanick. A
link to his web site is on our music link page.
To Be Continued......
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