What if you could go back in time to hear Abraham Lincoln’s famous Orations? What if you could smell the smoke of gun powder at one of the final battles of the Civil War and know you had the experience of True History? What if you witnessed History and spoke openly to those who would listen, and the reaction was a mixed bag of reactions some saying “That’s amazing” and some saying “So what? We spend decades honoring certain people by building Mt. Rushmore, we carry currency in our pockets with well-known Dignitaries faces on them. Then again we in our Human Nature can overlook someone who changed the face of the world.
I’m lucky to have seen lightning strike twice before the force of nature that was THE Link Wray passed on to the other side. It is very very personal to me and ladies and Gentlemen myself and many others are on a mission. The Fact is very simple and Crystal Clear. For the History of Guitar music, One name needs to be spoken in The Halls of Fame. That name is Link Wray. Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Wayne Kramer, and Most Recently The fellows from Metallica will all stand in that line of people who recognize any person who plays Rock guitar would not have “That Sound” that made Rock Guitar a medium for aggression to be turned into astounding music.
The coolest kat in town Link Wray
Frederick Lincoln Wray was born May 2nd, 1929 in Dunn, North Carolina. He was half Shawnee and ALL Badass. I often wonder Why does Wray continue to not get the credit he deserves?
Link came from hard times to learning some Guitar from an Elderly man known as “Hambone”. Then after a considerable amount of time of being involved in the Western Swing music and various other styles of music, and Serving in the Korean war (where he lost a lung due to TB) He went from an Honorable man in his service of his country and by his general nature to someone about to Create History. The link was passionate about Family, Heritage, as he often said ‘HIS Jesus” and the guitar.
The Power Chord and the Fuzz of a broken amp speaker
He was always one to experiment with sound and due to a slight accident turned revelation He discovered the secret sound that from that moment in 1958 spread like wildfire and even to this very day.
Accounts vary as to how it came to pass….the version Most heard was his amplifier had been dropped or met with some slight damage and when plugged in had a sound not heard before due to a tear in the speaker. Link’s logic was “well if it sounds that way, what if?” and proceeded to poke a few more holes in the speaker with a pencil. FUZZ tone, Distortion, was now in play. While doing a record hop, a popular type of song called “A Stroll” was asked and He did not know one. but the drummer did and in Professionalism and improvisation Link played what is widely considered the most important D chord in history. D D E roared into the room and “Rumble” was born. Fuzz and Power Chords created the very foundation of Modern Rock guitar. Imagine no Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, Beatles, or WHO.
Ironic as it is this man’s name has been on the lips of the Legends of the guitar since the ’60s, yet he has only been nominated once and promptly NOT inducted into The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Ladies and Gentlemen, there could well have never been a Rock hall were it not for Link Wray. Period. It’s Time.
He has in recent years been talked about in the Films “Rumble..The Indians who Rocked the World” and “It Might Get Loud”.He has been placed in the Native American Musician’s Hall of Fame and a few other Honors have been slowly coming around. This is unfortunate in its timing as with so many it’s after their life is over. Yet two Targets need to be hit, The Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville and of Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I personally know I will never be inducted, but I want to see Link Get there and have already approached Nashville’s Head of Operations. I encourage you to do the same. Joe Chambers is a lovely spirited man and very well respected. Reach out to Mr. Chambers Respectfully.
Why am I so passionate about this Man Link Wray?
I grew up as a fan of so many forms of music and every band mentioned in this writing and hundreds more. Around 1997 I was closing in on a decade of professional career myself. But found we were setting up for yet another show. I was in a musical rut. Many of my go-to players had died and I lacked any real excitement for music beyond what I had already experienced. We had the P.A. finally up and running and my partner in crime Mr. Bill Smith a Brilliant guitarist in his own right put on a CD over the P.A. and I heard a song I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be “Good Time Joe” and I asked Bill who this was and he smiles and hands me a double-disc “Link Wray Guitar Preacher. The Polydor years” One lung or not this man could deliver a vocal and was certainly not limited to his Instrumental work of the ’50s. I very Cautiously borrow this and found an incredible wealth of music that I carry with me even now. That broke the rut I had been in and advanced my line of thinking. Not about only guitar playing but the art of songwriting.
I wouldn’t have become the real ME without Link Wray. Then something magical happened. I was flipping through the Weekender section of the Columbus, Ohio Newspaper “The Dispatch” and I see a tiny ad…Link Wray is playing in a BAR! Oct 14th, 2000 The Thirsty ear Tavern. I Borrowed a few dollars from my dad and drove 45 mins in 25 minutes. Ticketmaster, thank you very much. Happy Birthday, Bill!
The afternoon of the show we arrive and go in at the opening time and take the Table center Stage. Rule one, we take turns going for a beer or the bathroom.
This is Sacred space and we shall NOT be moved. We are watching the opening act within a couple of hours set up and we are bantering back and forth about what it’s like to be on tour with this living Legend. Showtime finally rolls in and the Hair on my arms is sticking up. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing I thought. I leaned over and laid Guitar picks at this man’s feet and we locked eyes and smiled. No words. None needed. We had been thinking all afternoon ..the speaker cabinet was turned around backward facing the glass of the front of the tavern. Mistake? NO! “RUMBLE” first song. The Cab was backward so you wouldn’t have your head removed from your shoulders and die.
This one goes to 11. I could see the glass vibrating right at the edge of shattering but somehow it lived through an hour of the Meanest and Loudest Joyful Rock n Roll show 40 people could ask for. I have the guitar pics still. Two years later it happens again. Open paper, jaw drops. Link Wray and Chuck Berry Red White and Boom at an outdoor show in Columbus, Ohio. Well, Chuck being Chuck cancels at the last second and is now not performing, he’s on a plane to NY for their 4th of July Televised show. And …we don’t Care!
Bill and I meet a fellow named Greg Laxton early in the day who had come a few thousand miles as one must understand Link was born in 1929 and it’s 2002 and he had also been lucky for that lightning was Link to Strike again. Link and company come out and again I lay the guitar picks at his feet, he nods and smiles as he remembers this ritual we established 2 years ago. Then something astounding happens. Link had a habit of leaning his guitar neck out to the Crowd and a high volume of racket and sounds indescribable was usually the result. He leaned right at me during “Jack The Ripper” and played the first part and to his surprise, I played the second. His smile was almost as big as my own. You can’t buy that type of joy for any amount of money.
In the middle of the show, he began talking about how he had been increasingly hearing his older instrumentals in films such as Pulp Fiction and many others and he had been tricked out of any Money from those songs in the 1950s.
This is very important to know and no he was not in the best mood as he also talked about Being Half Native in America and was pouring his heart out. I heard his then-wife say in her Danish accent ” Just shut up and play your guitar!” He turned and looked at her, I held my hand thumbs up and he looked at me and I shouted “I got this”, he nodded his approval. I called her over to the side of the stage and suffice to say she got a lecture that left her speechless. A few people know what transpired but it’s generally unknown exactly what was said, then Link smiled at me again. Link Wray and I never had a conversation, we hardly even spoke a word..we didn’t have to. I was blessed to have had those moments. The world is blessed to have had him, or music wouldn’t be what it is today.
This man Frederick Lincoln Wray gave the world something incredibly special, we need to act and give back the respect he deserves. I’m calling on any to again Respectfully contact Joe Chambers in Nashville. How to handle the Brass Ring of the Rock Hall in Cleveland Is something that may take a substantial different effort…Just remember that there’s no fire without a spark, There’s no purpose for the Bell if you don’t ring it. Ring it! Over and over…it too just might go to 11.
What should Dunn North Carolina Do for Link
This is a short documentary on what the town of Dunn North Carolina could do to honor the memory of Link Wray. To finish up here and we hope you enjoyed reading the post. Feel free to leave a comment and share in social media sites.