Am I reaching a bit too far to make alphabetic, A to Z, connections? Maybe.
But I started out researching this post with Switchblade (see the YouTube video below) playing in the background. You might think it is a Peter Gun rip off, but I don’t think so. His classic, but vastly under-valued, fuzzy riffs were original, and everyone who brought rock and roll to the foreground in the 1960s credits 1950s Link Wray and his groundbreaking, vastly influential Rumble with inspiring them to play Rock and Roll. Switchblade was probably more suggestively violence-inciting than what is probably the only instrumental actually ever banned from radio play, his 1958 hit, Rumble, because it might incite violence as the word rumble meant a street gang fight.
I had the pleasure, and I feel the honor, of seeing/hearing/feeling Link Wray perform solo at Club Congress in downtown Tucson on June 24th, 1997. You can read about Tucson and Wray here. My husband and I danced our asses off all evening to his pulsing rock riffs. He passed away in 2005.
I’ve wanted to write about him and the movie that carries one of his song names as a title (see below) for a while now but just didn’t have a hook to connect it to this site. Now I do.
My brothers were of the age, at least the three oldest brothers, to listen to 1950s rock, and raucous rock-a-billy. Years later, when I first listened to rock and roll, I mainly listened to radio, and in Indiana it was mainstream, vanilla listening. So I was a full-on adult before I heard of Link Wray, but I knew I had heard him… somewhere, somewhen. The energy of his music raged through many people I listened to. I really did not know that much about him though until he came through Tucson.
It is only in the last few years that I have really come to appreciate Wray, and the indigenous, causal influence of he and other rock and roll legends.
As I look back on the live music I have experienced, I realize I am freaking lucky to have attended John Trudell appearances, reading, music (see his books or listen to his music (Blue Indians album), experienced the great women’s acapella of Ulali and experience the music of Indigenous (blues music).
Living in Tucson I probably am more aware of indigenous poets and writers. Check out some of them.