LINK WRAY

Australian Guitar - - Feature -

The Power HIS­TORY

A Na­tive Amer­i­can gui­tarist who served in the Korean War, Link Wray was known for his raw and dirty ap­proach to in­stru­men­tal gui­tar, often per­form­ing songs named for Amer­i­can In­dian tribes (“Apache”, “Co­manche” and his na­tive “Shawnee”), but it’s his first hit, “Rum­ble”, that re­de­fined the gui­tar.

The song was even banned in sev­eral cities be­cause it was feared its sub­ject mat­ter would in­cite gang vi­o­lence – even though it didn’t have any lyrics! Wray con­tin­ued play­ing right up to his death in 2005 at the age of 76, and some re­cently un­earthed record­ings are planned to be re­leased this year. GREAT­EST ACHIEVE­MENTS

“Rum­ble” pi­o­neered two cru­cial build­ing blocks for what would come to be known as rock gui­tar: the power chord, and dis­tor­tion (which Wray achieved by pok­ing holes in his amp’s speak­ers, an ir­re­versible mod that led to an ir­re­sistible gui­tar sound).

Part of the magic of “Rum­ble” is in how Wray lets his chords hang threat­en­ingly in the air. It sounds like some­thing bad is about to go down. WHERE TO START Rum­ble It’s the per­fect be­gin­ners’ gui­tar song. BOSS LEVEL Rum­ble Again, but this time with the right at­ti­tude, which you can only get af­ter you’ve lived a lit­tle.

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