RIP Link Wray
Via Pitchfork... "The man responsible for popularizing the now-ubiquitous power chord, legendary guitarist Link Wray, passed away at his home in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 5. He was 76 years old.
Wray is perhaps best known for his convention-shattering rock instrumental "Rumble", which landed in the U.S. Top 20 in 1958 despite being banned in several radio markets for its violent evocations. A banned instrumental? How's that for punk rock?
An icon to icons, Wray's legacy stretches far and wide, with everyone from Bob Dylan, David Bowie, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Jerry Garcia to John Kerry's high school band citing the guitarist as an influence. The Who's Pete Townsend went so far as to claim he would "have never picked up a guitar" if it weren't for Wray.
The loss is no doubt deeply felt; Dylan opened a recent London show with his rendition of "Rumble", and other high-profile tributes will surely follow. Fact is, your fledgling garage band is probably steeped in the man's influence.
Three-quarters Shawnee Indian, the prolific Wray pioneered a raucous guitar-playing style that would echo down the decades, through rock, punk, and heavy metal. Revered for his formidable live show, Wray had continued to tour extensively over the years. He wrapped up a lengthy U.S. tour this July. Wray's official website attributes his cause of death to heart failure.
Despite being named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, Link Wray has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Wray leaves behind his Danish-born wife Olive, who was his manager and frequently drummed at his live gigs, as well as their son Oliver. He will be missed.
* Link Wray: http://www.linkwraylegend.com/
ADDED from No RockNRoll Fun...
"The death has been announced of Link Wray, inventor of the power chord.Considered by many to be the missing link between the blues and rock, Wray stumbled upon the power chord on his 1958 hit Rumble, setting the blueprint for all rock guitar, ever. He'd taken up guitar playing seriously after the aftermath of tuberculosis made it difficult for him to sing with his brother band Lucky Wray and the Palomino Ranch Hands.
When the band relocated from their birthplace of North Carolina to DC, Wray started to develop his keynote style which came together on Rumble. The song made the top 20, but not without causing some upset - despite having no vocals, it was interpreted as being about gang violence (some things, it seems, never change) and got itself banned from several radio stations.
The Wray brother's label, Cadence, wanted to distance themselves from such allegations, and asked the boys to abandon their leather-and-shades look. The boys refused, and moved on to Epic. Ironically, despite having signed them up because of their edge, and despite the band delivering another top 30 hit with Rawhide, Epic started to panic.
Link was redirected to recording orchestral songs, the sort of Danny Boy bilge which would keep Max Bygraves and Daniel O'Donnell in business.Frustrated, the Wrays founded their own label, Rumble Records, which managed to produce the Jack the Ripper hit before they fell into the arms of Swan Records - an early example of a US act being signed to a UK label as their primary contract.
Swan understood the band better than most, although that meant they gave them space to produce some records best forgotten.Wray released a solo album in 1971 which set a pattern for 'well received by the critics; poorly received by the general public' which would haunt him for the rest of his career.
In 1978, Wray married a Dane, Olive Julie Povlsen, and relocated to Denmark to raise a son. Around the same time, he was tempted out of semi-retirement by Robert Gordon, former singer with The Tuff Darts for a couple of rock revival projects. He carried on recording into his 70s.Wray died of a "tired heart" on November 5th. He is survived by Olive and his son, Oliver.