I saw Link Wray perform this past July at Glendale's (CA) annual Cruise Night. He hobbled on stage like an old man but, clad in black jeans, leather jacket and shades, pounded out timeless primal rock'n'roll with youthful abandon. Little did I know it would be his last appearance in America. He died recently at age 76. His brutal instrumentals paved the way for garage rock, metal and punk. I remember coming across a Link Wray album with liner notes from Pete Townsend crediting Wray with inspiring his pin-wheeling power chords. But Wray had a weirdness, an atmosphere to his music that defied pigeon-holing.
My first exposure to Wray was, believe it or not, through Adam and the Ants! I had their "Kings of the Wild Frontier" album as a wee lad, and one of my faves off it, "Killer In The Home," featured Wray's classic riff from his late '50s hit "Rumble." I later discovered that some of my fave Cramps tunes, like "Sunglasses After Dark," were Wray instros + Cramps lyrics.
LINK WRAY: "Rumble" - Hey tough guy, have you had any of your songs banned? Oh yeah? How about an instrumental getting banned? Now THAT'S hardcore. In spite, or perhaps because it was banned from various stations this one rode high on the charts, providing the soundtrack to countless juvenile-delinquent switchblade fights.
LINK WRAY: "Batman" - The TV theme adorned with absurd sound-effects, dialogue, and grown men saying, "Zap! Pow!"
Big thanks to garage-punk.com and Record Brother - check 'em out for more Link Wray info and mp3s.