Link Wray, born Frederick Lincoln Wray Jr, the innovative guitarist credited with inventing ‘fuzz’ (apparently he poked a pencil through the cone of his amplifier to achieve a uniquely distorted guitar sound) and widely hailed as the father of the power chord, died on this day in 2005 – at the age of 76.
An influence to more household names than you could wave a pencil at, his most famous song and signature tune – ‘Rumble’, a Top 20 12-bar blues instrumental, released in March 1958 – was banned by several radio stations across the US on the grounds that it glorified juvenile delinquency (the word ‘rumble’ being a slang term for a gang fight).
Have a listen. It’s hard to believe that he created this in 1958, when The Chordettes were chirruping about their lollipop, Little Anthony had tears on his pillow, and the presumably terribly forgetful Royal Teens kept making the same annoyingly adorable enquiries as to the wearers of short shorts.
So, first and foremost, hats off to Link Wray. Just think of the guitarists he has inspired with his innovations. Said Pete Townshend: “If it hadn’t been for Link Wray and ‘Rumble’, I would have never picked up a guitar.” Everyone from The Kinks, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young in the early ’60s, to the grunge bands of the ’90s, when interest in Link Wray was renewed.
Secondly, how about remembering all the things – be they songs, films, album covers – that have been banned at one time or another? Elton John’s ‘The Bitch Is Back’ (what a naughty word), the Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ (God forbid, we mustn’t mention God…) and my favourite, which I desperately hope is true: The Who’s ‘My Generation’, temporarily shunned by the BBC because those paragons of impartiality (yeah, right) didn’t want to offend people who st-st-stutter.
Thirdly and lastly, although I don’t realistically expect enough interest in the period or genre to give it a post of its own if the results of this poll are anything to go by, I’d like to know your favourite songs from 1958.
Notwithstanding my above sneers, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard also put out ground-breaking records that would influence and re-invigorate many, making 1958 a year as worthy of note as any we have discussed previously or will discuss in the future.
Elvis also gave us ‘Don’t’ in 1958, which, of course, David has covered.
Here are 100 songs, anyway, to save you from having to search.
Naturally, I apologise if I have offended The Chordettes, Little Anthony, any of his Imperials, the Royal Teens, the BBC or anyone who stutters by writing this post.