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Link Wray

While recording his 1958 hit single Rumble, Link Wray took a pen and punched holes in the tweeters of his amp to get a combination of distortion and tremolo never before heard from an electric guitar. And although there were no words in Rumble, the grungy guitar riffs so convincingly emulated the menace of a real teenage rumble that the song was banned by some radio stations – quite a feat for a song with no vocals or lyrics.


The song came to life when Wray and his Wraymen were playing a gig in the Washington DC area. Some of the kids requested the band play The Stroll by The Diamonds, but Wray didn’t know it and started piecing together the gritty, full-on, down and distorted creation.

Wray would go on to make many more excellent, viciously moody records – most of them instrumental – though none of them equalled the success of Rumble.

By making a guitar sound better by monkeying with his electronics, he was breaking ground for Pete TownshendJeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix to take even more extreme liberties.