“Rumble” by Link Wray
Link Wray is credited with inventing distortion and power chords—or at least, he’s the man who made them part of the Rock & Roll vernacular. Having lost a lung to tuberculosis while serving in the Army, Wray focused on his guitar-playing. It paid off. From Wikipedia:
In 1958, at a live gig of the D.C.-based Milt Grant’s House Party, attempting—at the urging of the local crowd—to work up a cover sound-alike for The Diamons’ hit, “The Stroll”, they came up with an eleven and one half bar blues titled “Rumble” which they first called “Oddball”. The song was an instant hit with the live audience, which demanded four repeats that night. Eventually the song came to the attention of record producer Archie Bleyer of Cadence Records, who hated it, particularly after Wray poked holes in his amplifier’s speakers to make the recording sound more like the live version.
“Rumble” was slang for a gangland street fight; that title, coupled with the menacing lope of Link Wray’s guitar, was enough to get the song banned from radio stations who were afraid of encouraging juvenile delinquency. Which I’m sure must have been a pain in the ass at the time, but I kind of miss the days when people thought Rock & Roll might get you killed.
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