Saturday, November 26, 2005

In search of the lost Link

In studying musical feedback, ’ve looked mainly at Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor on the one hand, and Jimi Hendrix and the Velvet Underground on the other. The key Hendrix song for our purposes has been Third Stone from the Sun.

When you listen to it, there are a whole host of musical influences on display..running about the full gamut. It is hard now to think of first hearing of the song.

But (thanks in no small part to the artist dropping hints) the probable first impression was this was a satire that mixed surf music with space invader music. So guitar influences you’d pick out would include Dick Dale and The Ventures... and Forbidden Planet. Could we throw in Duane Eddy and Link Wray?

[If you traipse back to Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.. we come up to say Les Paul.. and T-Bone Walker ... and head out in two directions.. blues and country... and its not hard to get to Link Wray.. and rocknroll]

Link Wray died Nov. 5 at home in Copenhagen. Less interested in feedback than in raw distortion, for all I know, he is most revered for Rumble. I remember discovering the song [via WTOS oldies show in Milwaukee] about the same time I read that Peter Townsend put Link in the sainthood category. Rumble says Sisario in Times obit “remains a symbol of the stylized menace of rockabilly.”

Wray punctured his amp speaker to get the fuzz. Kinks approached music similarly. Wray in way created the power chord. He was a Shawnee, and quite an active chatterer, as a linked-to Fresh Air reprise episode shows.
Famed guitarist Link Wray, Shawnee, dies as 76 -
Did not know he was Shawnee. He was a king of feedback and harmonic distortion. Just heard interview with him last week on American Routes. Cecelia sent me this link.

Remembering Guitarist Link Wray – FreshAir, NPR [audio]
Link Wray, 76, a Guitarist With Raw Rockabilly Sound, Dies – NYT

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