Link Wray
Link Wray

Fred Lincoln "Link" Wray Jr (May 2, 1929 – November 5, 2005) was an American rock and roll guitar player most noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars in his hit 1958 instrumental "Rumble", by Link Wray and his Ray Men. Before "Rumble", electric guitars were commonly used to produce clean sounds and jazz chords. Wray pioneered electric guitar distortions, like overdrive and fuzz, and was the first guitarist to use power chords to play a song's melody.

Wray was born in Dunn, North Carolina to Lillie M. Norris and Frederick ("Fred") Lincoln Wray. It was there that Link first heard slide guitar at age eight from a traveling carnival worker, a black man named "Hambone". Link and his family later moved to Norfolk, Virginia as his father got work in the Navy shipyards. Link served a hitch in the US Army and was a Korean War Veteran. In 1956, his family later moved to Washington, D.C., and from there, they moved to a farm in Accokeek, Maryland. Link relocated to Arizona with his brother Vernon in the very early 1970s, and later moved to San Francisco in the mid 1970s.

Wray was a veteran of the Korean war, where he contracted tuberculosis that ultimately cost him a lung. His doctors told him that he would never sing again. So Link concentrated on his heavy guitar work. Despite this, on his rare vocal numbers he displays a strong voice and a range equivalent to Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

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