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There's A Rumble In Heaven Tonight
November 20, 2005 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Pioneering instrumental-rock guitarist Link Wray - one of the original rockabilly artists, credited with having invented the "power chord", which has become the basis for modern rock and alternative music - died this week at the age of 76. You'd probably know him from his song 'Rumble', used on the 'Pulp Fiction' soundtrack. The English-speaking media hasn't picked up on the story yet, but various blogs, the Spanish and Danish press - translation here - and various music messageboards were all over the story 24 hours ago.
posted by tapeguy (45 comments total)

 
Sad, but I was actually kind of surprised to find out that he was still alive to begin with.
posted by interrobang at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2005


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posted by rockabilly_pete at 11:13 AM on November 20, 2005


terrible news. I don't know where I, or any musician for that matter, would be without his influence.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2005


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posted by padraigin at 11:33 AM on November 20, 2005


!
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2005


alternatively, ... .
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:39 AM on November 20, 2005


What a rocker he was! I can't begin to count the number of musicians he backed up so solidly that they sounded competent.

:) He had the hair, too.

RIP, Link; thanks for all the rhythm.
posted by reflecked at 11:41 AM on November 20, 2005


.

Saw him about eight years ago at the Backstage in Ballard. I had no idea he was that old.
posted by mwhybark at 11:41 AM on November 20, 2005


.............. .............. ............ ...................!

[guitar style, rendered in periods]

.
posted by intermod at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2005


Aw jeez, that sucks.
posted by Opposite George at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2005


,

(distorted .)
posted by keswick at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2005


.
posted by Busithoth at 11:56 AM on November 20, 2005


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posted by boo_radley at 12:10 PM on November 20, 2005


Power chords, for those who (like me) didn't know exactly what they were.
posted by jepler at 12:12 PM on November 20, 2005


.

He had only one lung for the past fifty years!
Hasil Adkins, Bob Moog and now this, it's been a tough year.
posted by hampton at 12:23 PM on November 20, 2005


Damn. I was literally thinking about Link yesterday. I'm going to pry out my Link Wray vinyl and have a personal memorial.

He had a good long run, but we'll miss him.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:32 PM on November 20, 2005


:::::::::::::: :::::::::::::: ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;


(Rumble distorted & echoed)
posted by alteredcarbon at 12:40 PM on November 20, 2005


.
posted by kaseijin at 12:50 PM on November 20, 2005


Sucks that the guy is dead, but power chords are definitely not this guys invention.. A power chord is just a three-note chord which happens to sound great based on the intervals between the notes (one a third and one a fifth higher than the root, making the root note and highest note an octave apart). Part of the popularity of the chord in modern music lies in the fact that when played on a guitar in any standard or drop tuning (usually E and Drop D) they are slidable, easy to play, and are great for arranging melodies. Additionally they sound heavy as shit on an electric guitar with proper distortion, amplification, and percussion, and are easy and fun to play in a "barre chord" formation.

This guy may have helped make them popular in modern rock music but "power chords" have been rocking for a long time now.

Oh, and:

.
posted by baphomet at 12:54 PM on November 20, 2005


A power chord is a two-note chord, I-V. A I-III-V makes a major chord.

That said, I got into Link Wray through the writing of George Pelecanos. Link even shows up in a few of his novels, especially his latest, Hard Revolution.

Link kept it real before there was such a thing.

.
posted by bardic at 12:59 PM on November 20, 2005


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posted by Mr Bluesky at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2005


Sad, but I was actually kind of surprised to find out that he was still alive to begin with.

Me too. As I would be surprised to hear about any other rock stars born in 1929 who were still alive. (P.S. Great 'link' title, tapeguy.)
posted by LeLiLo at 1:09 PM on November 20, 2005


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posted by Bron at 1:41 PM on November 20, 2005


*salutes*

goodbye, great one.
posted by jonmc at 1:45 PM on November 20, 2005


A two-note chord is not a chord at all; it is an interval.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2005


Also:

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posted by Mikey-San at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2005


not a mention in English anywhere...
posted by destro at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2005


The last of the rockabilly greats who is still with us (AFAIK) is Billy Lee Riley, b.1933.
posted by rdone at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2005


The last of the rockabilly greats who is still with us (AFAIK) is Billy Lee Riley, b.1933.

*Ahem*
*ahem*
*ahem*
*ahem*
posted by jonmc at 2:13 PM on November 20, 2005


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:24 PM on November 20, 2005


I used to have this thing about Link Wray , i used to play him every saturday , god bless saturday.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:42 PM on November 20, 2005


Bummer. "Rumble" was a moment of awakening for me as a kid. He was a Washington DC native (thus the George P. link) and I was proud to have him as a hometown musician.

It's said that he did mostly instrumentals because of the loss of the lung, but he was an effective singer as well. His singing style is a great early example of southern rock.

I have some old vinyl around here somewhere.....
posted by mmahaffie at 4:07 PM on November 20, 2005


Hmmmm... I may be wrong about Link being a DC native, but I know he is associated with the DC-area somehow.

Also. iTunes doesn't offer much, I'm afraid ;(
posted by mmahaffie at 4:12 PM on November 20, 2005


damn.
posted by jann at 4:46 PM on November 20, 2005


Coop did a fantastic tribute to Rumble and its many cover versions a while back. Definitely worth checking out if you wanna know what the fuss is all about.

*bashes out those two famous chords, heavy on the Bigsby*
*retunes*
posted by arto at 4:49 PM on November 20, 2005


Sad day.

I had the pleasure of meeting Link 7 or 8 years ago when the band I was in opened for him. We were loading in as he was sound checking. We were standing around listening, his LOUD amp sounded great in the empty club. At the end of songs we'd clap and hoot and holler, just the 3 or 4 of us as we stashing our equipment. Just as I was wondering if we'd really get a chance to talk to him (we'd heard from some friends in NYC that he'd probably hang out in his bus), he and the band finished their check. Link walked right over to us off the stage and introduced himself. We talked for 20-30 minutes about all kinds of stuff (mostly music, of course). Seriously, such a charming, nice man - and so cool with his 70 y.o. long, jet black hair.

After his show, he hung out on the stage and signed autographs (including guitars that guys must have brought and had stashed in their cars) for at least 1 1/2 hours. Everyone had so much fun that night, and just loved him.
posted by glycolized at 5:11 PM on November 20, 2005


Two days ago I decided to learn how to play "Rumble". And if you haven't heard it you should really check out his work with Robert Gordon, it is outstanding.
posted by HSWilson at 5:41 PM on November 20, 2005


but power chords are definitely not this guys invention

They weren't handed down by God. According to the wiki definition, which I'm inclined to agree with, part of what defines a power chord is distortion, which hadn't become widespread yet when Wray was doing his thing.

A power chord is a two-note chord, I-V. A I-III-V makes a major chord.

(pedant) You should just write 1 and 5. Roman numerals refer to chords. (/pedant)

A two-note chord is not a chord at all; it is an interval.

That's a fairly meaningless distinction. They're still called "power chords."
posted by ludwig_van at 7:15 PM on November 20, 2005


Damn, my barber played with him a couple months ago. Said it was the greatest thing ever.
posted by notsnot at 8:17 PM on November 20, 2005


One of the main Link Wray websites has been updated with a fair amount of new info. WrayShack also has an MP3 of Bob Dylan covering Rumble in tribute. I'm at work and can't download, but plan to as soon as I get home this evening.
posted by mmahaffie at 5:13 AM on November 21, 2005


Heh, Sgt. Serenity, that lyric keeps going through my head as well.
posted by fletchmuy at 5:32 AM on November 21, 2005


Nooooo! Damn.

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posted by stinkycheese at 7:08 AM on November 21, 2005


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posted by dial-tone at 7:21 AM on November 21, 2005


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jonmc, Ronnie Dawson's been dead for a couple years and I wouldn't exactly say that Jerry Lee is "with us" if you've seen him lately.
posted by DonnieSticks at 9:15 AM on November 21, 2005


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posted by Smedleyman at 6:29 PM on November 21, 2005


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