Music News

Link Wray

Even though it's been 47 years since "Rumble" was banned from the radio out of fear that it would promote teenage gang warfare, the landmark instrumental's creator, Link Wray, is still strutting across stages worldwide like some evil, black-leather-clad rooster -- liver spots and all. And why not? Credited with inventing the power chord and thereby blazing the trail for every good, bad or ugly metal band that ever lived, Wray remains a highly influential but unsung figure in the rock-and-roll canon. Born Frederick Lincoln Wray Jr. to a Shawnee Indian mother in Dunn, North Carolina, the year of the great stock market crash, Wray survived not only poverty, but a bout with tuberculosis during a stint in the Korean War that cost him his left lung. Even so, the unlikely distortion pioneer and psychobilly ancestor howled his way up the charts with menacing hits like "Rawhide" and "Jack the Ripper" before image-handlers talked him into covering "Danny Boy" with a full backing orchestra. Sad but true. Then again, what's an American legend without a few dramatic ups and downs?
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John La Briola