Monday, November 21, 2005

Link Wray, the Hillbilly Wolf, Dead at 76

Rolling Stone Story

I saw Link Wray play once, he was performing with modern Rock-a-Billy great Robert Gordon.

Link Wray was one of rock's great innovators, and even though his records and music will live on forever...he is someone who will be missed by everyone who knows his name and the sounds his fingers pulled from his guitar.

If you've never listened to Link, or you don't know who he was, do yourself a favor and go find some of his songs.

I recommend Flirty Baby, I Sez Baby, or Teenage Cutie. I'm going to grab my bottle of Jack, put on my old leather jacket, drag out my guitar, and pretend to play along with my copy of Missing Links Volume 1 over and over tonight. Hell, I might even go out and buy a pack of smokes.

From the liner notes on the back of that album:

Link Wray, I mean, did he ever really have any competition? Back in his Rumble n' Rawhide days, the Duane Eddys, Fireballs, and other string scrathers were fine enuff, but it was Link who first ignored the speed limit (even on his slow stuff you can dig where I'm comin' from). And like later there were all these guys who could make a guitar talk, but face it--if you wanna dig talkin', listen to a conversation. Now, if you wanna hear a guitar sound like a GUITAR, Link Wray is yer boy.

Link and his borthers Vernon and Doug hailed from North Carolina tho by the early 50's they were carousing Virginia's Norfolk/Portsmouth area. With a nod do his good gamblin' fortunes Vernon took the name Lucky and put together a loose musical aggregation (includin' Link and Doug) called Lucky Wray & the Lazy Pine Wranglers pushin' hackneyed C&W corn like Taxi Driver Blues and Fly Swatter. Link had a few years earlier contracted TB while workin' for Uncle Sam in Korea and the docs hadda remove one of his lungs and told him to leave the croonin' to Vern, so the Linkster spent his very lengthy recoup time learnin' every in/out he could rassle outta the geetar.

The Wray brothers worked steadily at a Virginia dance hall called the Fernwood Farms as well as the many Naval watering holde of the Virginia shore (Where young Gene Vincent reportedly sat in with the combo from time to time). by 1955, Lucky Wray &the Palamino Ranch Gang as they were now called, relocated to the Washington DC area and brought bassist Shorty Horton into the fold. Link had fallen in with some local songwriters and cut a cool crop of their toons-- Hillbilly Wolf, I Sez Baby, and Johnny Bom Bonny displayin' the gruff howl his lost lung brought on. The Ranch Gang managed to lease six titles to Starday records in Houston spotlightin' Vern's country warblin' with a pair of rockabilly gems.

Link Wray is the coolest.

And I'm gonna sit right down and cry...over him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss Archie.

7:41 AM  

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