Local Wire

Link Wray

At the risk of oversimplifying his appeal, or understating his accomplishments, when it comes to '50s surf/instrumental guitar, Link Wray is the Stones to Duane Eddy's Beatles. While Eddy's movie matinee looks, and sweet, bubbling twang of tracks such as "Rebel Rouser" (amplified by the low whinny of Eddy's whammy bar) would shoot him up the charts (being managed by Dick Clark didn't hurt), bad boy Wray's been more influential. From the first chords of his seminal single "Rumble," Wray opened a new door in rock. The raw, primitive roar of his guitar gave birth to rock's greatest weapon: the power chord. Wray's dark sonic strut links the self-immolating passion of Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson with the advent of The Who and Led Zeppelin. Now in his mid-70s and still clad in his leather jacket, like the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wray's possessed of a tenacious rock spirit that never grows old.