The guitar still conveys the ultimate sense of cool in pop culture. Of course, it also gets taken advantage of. Two cases in point: Justin Bieber’s newest release features the teeny bopper with a guitar—although no guitar music appears on his record. And the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain has just announced that its skater punk rat mascot will be better represented going forward as a modern-day guitar-wielding rodent. So, when in doubt, apparently, add a guitar.
Frederick Lincoln Wray was born on May 2, 1929 in Dunn, North Carolina. Better known as “Link”, the guitarist changed guitar forever with the recording of “Rumble” in 1958. Big, ringing chords- the first power chords- set against feedback and distorted amplification had never been put on record before. Coupled with Wray’s aggressive playing and sneering attitude, the song was punk and heavy metal years before either genre was even dreamed of. .
Wray went on to record dozens of albums over the course of his lifetime (he dies in 2005), and guitarists including Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, and Jeff Beck have all publicly expressed their awe upon first hearing Wray’s overdriven sound, claiming that his playing inspired to pursue their own volume-driven relationship with the guitar. Link would have been 83 today. Here’s a live version of Wray performing “Rumble”.