Today it’s official. The Rock Hall has failed - again - to induct Link Wray. After 34 straight years of induction ceremonies, Link Wray is still on the outside, looking in.
Take away Link’s contribution of intentional distortion and power chords from rock and roll. What’s left?
Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Dan Auerbach, Iggy Pop, Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen, Jim James, Jimmy Page, and countless other “Rock Gods” have all said that they were influenced by Link Wray.
Link’s song Rumble - an instrumental - was banned for fear of inciting violence. (How much more “rock and roll” can you get?)
This Korean War veteran was the first Native American rocker to sell over a million copies of a rock and roll record with Rumble.
Link was featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit on Native Americans in rock and roll in DC, New York, and Canada.
He’s one of only 50 rockers in the United States National Recording Registry housed in the Library of Congress.
And then there’s 2017. The Rumble documentary played in two dozen countries and won awards at Sundance, Hot Docs and a dozen others… national exposure in several commercials… Pitchfork declared Link Wray one of the best roots rock LPs ever… multiple re-issues selling out on Record Store Day… the upcoming biography… coverage in Rolling Stone on the release of the lost recording Son of Rumble…incredible words of support from rock and roll power-hitters Dan Auerbach, The Black Keys, Stevie Salas, Stevie and Maureen VanZandt, Michael Des Barres and Krist Novoselic… Link Wray’s profile had never been higher and I thought for sure this was his year.
Boy, was I ever wrong.
But, there are a few things I’m sure of …
- With the “… Knows” campaign on Twitter, the release of Son of Rumble, and the incredible support of Dan Auerbach for Link, I know there’s nothing more that could have done to get the wax out of the Rock Hall’s ears.
- People may not have known about Link Wray before, but they certainly know who Link Wray is now.
- 2018 is shaping up to be a great year for Link’s legacy. Rumble turns 60, Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound will release Son of Rumble on vinyl, THE FIRST MAN IN BLACK Link Wray biography is due, more unreleased Link Wray music is slated to be released and there’s even talk of a Link Wray movie…
- Link Wray was ahead of his time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will always be in his rear view mirror.
Link Wray Estate Spokesperson
American Music Historian
You can listen along when you click here.
The inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be announced the morning of December 13th. We are hopeful that when the 900 Rock Hall ballots are tallied, there is a 400 percent increase there too. Your support for Link is appreciated.
EASY EYE SOUND RELEASES “SON OF RUMBLE,” A NEVER BEFORE HEARD TRACK FROM THE LINK WRAY ARCHIVES!
“Link Wray was a huge influence on all modern rock guitar players. If they say he didn’t influence (them), they’re lying!” - Wayne Kramer, MC5
“Rumble had the power to help me say f*ck it,’ I’m going to be a musician.” - Iggy Pop
In 2018, it will have been 60 years since Link Wray released “Rumble,” and changed the face and sound of rock and roll forever. Dan Auerbach’s label, Easy Eye Sound, will release “Son of Rumble,” Link’s intended, but never released follow-up to the song that introduced the world to power chords and intentional distortion. “Son of Rumble” is a never released track from the Link Wray archives, and you can listen to it here. The song, along with “Whole Lotta Talking,” another never heard track, will be released on a 7” vinyl at a later date, and can be pre-ordered here.
Link’s “Rumble” became a flash point for countless musicians including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Steven Van Zandt, Jeff Beck and Elvis Costello. The song was banned in New York, Boston and Detroit for fear it would incite juvenile violence, making Link Wray the only artist in history to have a banned instrumental. 33 years after becoming eligible, this unsung hero of rock and roll is currently a Rock Hall nominee for the class of 2018, and fans can vote for his inclusion with a daily ballot through December 5th here.
Link Wray is one of the featured artists in the Sundance award winning “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” a documentary about the profound, essential and indelible impact of Indigenous People on American Music. This film includes interviews with Dan Auerbach, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, Slash, Steven Tyler and other notable musicians. You can learn more and watch the film’s trailer here.
The story of Link Wray sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood movie. In 1937, a boy from the Shawnee Indian tribe was taught guitar by an African American traveling carny worker named Hambone in the segregated south. In 1953, that boy became a Western Swing musician and played the wake of Hank Williams. By 1956, he was a Korean War veteran who lost a lung to TB and was told he’d never sing again. Yet, Link Wray spent the next half-century as the only one-lung singer in rock and roll, and laid the foundation for what the genre would become. The impact of Link Wray, who placed in the top 50 of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Guitarists of All Time, can be heard in generations of American and British metal, punk, garage, grunge, thrash and psychobilly rockers, all of whom have claimed him and “Rumble” (and the follow-ups “Raw-Hide,” “Jack the Ripper,” “Ace of Spades” and many more) as their own.
a. Son of Rumble
b. Whole Lotta Talking
For more information on Link Wray, please contact Greg Laxton (LinkWray.email@example.com).
For more information on this release and Easy Eye Sound, please contact Mary Moyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Emilio Herce (email@example.com) at Q-Prime 212-302-9790
ORDER THE VINYL
WATCH THE VIDEO
THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME
“Link’s too good for that place.” “It’s too corporate…” “It should be called the Pop Music Hall of Fame.” Hey, I get it. Link was eligible for induction at the Rock Hall’s inception, 33 years ago. With each passing year, his omission is more glaring. Love it or hate it, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an honor. Link’s legacy deserves this, and it means the world to his family and fans.
THE FAN BALLOT
The “fan ballot” is comprised of the Top 5 vote-getters in the fan poll. At the time of this posting, Bon Jovi leads with over 660,000 votes, and a total of 2.4 million votes going to the Top Five.
The fan ballot is ONE Rock Hall ballot to be counted with the other 900 ballot holders, who are previous Rock Hall inductees and industry people. So, if one were to lobby and flip two of those ballot holders, the fan ballot is effectively null and void.
Today, Link’s first generation fans are pushing 80 years of age. Most are not going to be online. On the flip side, Bon Jovi’s first generation fans have smart phones and can easily vote daily.
Don’t put a lot of weight in the fan ballot.
THE INDUCTION PROCESS
The only “cut in stone” requirement for induction is that the artist must wait 25 years after their first release to become eligible for nomination. After that, it’s all subjective.
Let’s take a look at the categories for which Link qualifies.
This category honors bands or solo artists which demonstrate musical excellence. Includes, but is not limited to, influence on other performers or genres; length and depth of career and catalog; stylistic innovations; or superior technique and skills. LINK FITS.
These artists pre-date the birth of rock and roll, but have had a profound impact on the music’s evolution and its iconic artists. LINK FITS. We blogged about it last year.
THE AWARD FOR MUSICAL EXCELLENCE
Honors performers, songwriters and producers who have changed the course of music history. These artists have dedicated their lives to creating influential, important music infused with originality, and have achieved a level of timeless distinction. LINK FITS.
I used to say I’d like to see Link inducted as a Performer, but Early Influence would be okay too. However, after reading the criteria for the Musical Excellence category, I feel that Link would be honored to know that a group of industry folks and artists like him thought he changed the course of history with his music.
Link’s legacy is on a high like never before. This year, his music has been placed in national commercials. LPs, which were out of print for decades, enjoyed sold-out reissues. There’s a biography due out in a few months. And to cap it off, there’s the film “Rumble.” It played at sold-out screenings all over the world, won Sundance and a dozen other awards and is under consideration for an Oscar nomination next month. Not bad for a rocker who’s been gone a dozen years. There are a few more surprises in the works, and it is going to be a banner year for Link Wray.
But again, let’s not minimize the honor that being in the Rock Hall will bring Link and his family and his legacy. His is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s most glaring omission. But the Rock Hall can change that. Now, more than any time in the past two decades, this is Link’s year. - Greg
Before I left Florida, I hit my local shirt shop and found the loudest shirt in the place - neon green. It was so damn bright I thought it would glow in the dark. I had them print in big block letters: INDUCT LINK WRAY
I planned to get pictures everywhere I could, and blast them on Twitter and Facebook every chance I got. That idea ended up working better than I could have imagined. I tweeted a pic of me standing outside of the building in front of the Rock Hall sign and by the time I walked in the door, the Rock Hall had already re-tweeted it to their thousands of followers! A pic of the INDUCT LINK WRAY shirt AND the Link Wray website address!
It was impressive, very well laid out, and covered every genre of rock as well as pop and hip hop. The early “rockin’ country” artists (Hank Sr., Bob Wills) were relegated to the Early Influence area. They did have a nice display of early Les Paul guitars but unless I missed it, other than Les I found zero jazz... and I’m one of those “rock in my Rock Hall” guys, so that was OK with me.
There were interactive theaters, a 50 Years of Rolling Stone exhibit, an Elvis display, blah, blah, blah... But, that’s not why you are here. Let’s talk about LINK. Actually, thanks to the new GUITAR display, he looms pretty large at the Rock Hall!
On the third floor, the Rock Hall just put up a huge exhibit on the electric guitar, showcasing 15 guitars from notable players. I thought a big plus was that the display was NOT your standard Page, Beck, Clapton “rock gods” exhibit. There was a bit of that - guitars from Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Billie Joe of Green Day - but the cool part was that the majority of the display was of guitarists the “average” Rock fan (i.e. a majority of the Fan Poll voters) may not have heard of. So there was an educational component there and kudos to the Rock Hall for that.
So what about Link?
The FIRST photo you see on the video screen is Link.
The FIRST sound clip you hear is RUMBLE.
There’s also a video display featuring Link in “The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”
Do I have any criticisms? No, but I do have some suggestions…
- The display plaque has Link at #67 in Rolling Stone’s “Top 100” guitarists. On a later list, he was in the Top 50. But the “average rock fan” would never notice.
- The photo of Link used in the exhibit had him playing a different guitar than the one displayed. Videos and photos of other artists were of them using the actual guitar displayed. But the “average rock fan” would never notice.
- When I visited the Hall in 1993, the Inductee area was at the very top floor, with signatures of inductees etched in backlit glass in a pitch black room. It was very cool and had a lot of “wow” factor. Today, inductees are plaques on a wall. Nice, but not as “prestigious” as the earlier display.
- Finally, and most shocking... unless I missed it, there was ZERO information on the 2018 nominees to be found. Racks packed with brochures on the inductees and maps of the Rock Hall, but no flyers on voting for the 2018 nominees!
Almost forgot! About a half dozen of the employees of the Rock Hall said they liked the shirt and agreed it’s time for Link to get in.
All in all, recommended. I think the guitar exhibit runs for the next few months. Hopefully, they’ll expand Link’s artifacts on display, oh... maybe around April! - Greg
Then they announced Sister Rosetta Tharpe as a nominee as well, and my prediction went out the door because SRT and Link are both worthy Early Influence inductees.
Link making it into the Top 5 Fan poll will be difficult - he passed away a dozen years ago, and his “first generation fans” are all pushing 80. Bon Jovi’s first gen fans all have computers and smartphones. This year’s fan poll really says a lot on how much the voting “rock fans” really know - the most influential are near the bottom of the poll.
History shows only the #1 Fan vote getter has been inducted each year. #2 thru 5 have been passed over in years past.
And it’s true, a million Fan votes equals ONE ballot vote. Sway just two ballot holders, we have doubled the results of a million Fan votes.
BUT, if the press notices Link’s slow climb in the poll, I think it may sway a ballot holder or two. Everyone loves a good underdog story.
Right now we are running the RUMBLE DVD contest on Twitter where people have to post reasons why Link should be inducted. The Rock Hall has made Twitter “the place” for Rock Hall 2018, so we are hoping the extra Link posts there may sway a ballot holder or two (or a few dozen). There’s a couple other things in the works that, if they come together, should really blow your mind.
All that being said, after the year Link’s legacy has had, this year - more than any year - is his time for the Rock Hall.
1. TWEET why Link Wray should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2. ENTER as many times as you like.
3. Link’s daughter Beth picks here Top Ten favorites on October 31st.
This campaign is being run on Twitter and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has made it “the” place to discuss #rockhall2018. So head over and enter! Then, vote for Link HERE. A very special thank you to Rumble Film, Rezolution Pictures and Kino Lorber for donating the DVDs for this contest.
Native American. Korean War veteran. One lunged rocker. Changed the face of Rock and Roll. More than any artist this year - no one has done more for rock and roll than Link Wray.
CLICK HERE for the action plan to help Link’s chances for induction.
CLICK HERE to vote for Link Wray. You can vote once a day.
Today Link is one step closer to getting in the Rock Hall, but the man who gave rock and roll intentional distortion and the power chord is still on the outside looking in.
Link Wray was ahead of his time. It’s time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to catch up to Link Wray.
Let’s look at the “Early Influence” criteria on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website and see if Link Wray could be considered as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Early Influence inductee this year -
“These artists pre-date the birth of rock and roll, but have had a profound impact on music’s evolution and it’s iconic artists.”
Let’s break that criteria down, piece-by-piece -
“These artists pre-date the birth of rock and roll…”
Does Link Wray pre-date the birth of rock and roll?
Depends on what definition the Rock Hall uses for the “birth of rock and roll.” Some historians say rock and roll started with Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88” that was released in 1951. Others will say rock and roll started in 1954 when Bill Haley and the Comets released “Rock Around the Clock.”
This year’s Rock Hall inductee page has yet another version of the “birth of rock and roll” timeline when it quotes Ice Cube - “Rock and Roll is a spirit. It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop…” Using that quote, the “birth of rock and roll” moves back into the 1930’s and earlier.
So the actual “birth of rock and roll” has yet to be defined by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Link is still in the game.
Now, let’s look at the last half of that “Early Influence” criteria -
“…but have had a profound impact on music’s evolution and it’s iconic artists.”
Did Link Wray have a profound impact on music’s evolution and it’s iconic artists?
Ask Bob Dylan, Steven Van Zandt, Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, John Fogerty, Neil Young, Elvis Costello other Rock Hall inductees as well as members of the Rock Hall Nominating Committee, whose quotes can be found on this page. Terry Stewart, the past President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has said, “Rock and Roll would not be what it is without the contribution of Link Wray.”
The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Link is still in the game.
Finally, let’s take a look at the “musical timeline” of a couple recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Early Influence inductees -
FREDDIE KING - Started playing music in 1952, first records released in 1956.
WANDA JACKSON - Started playing music and first records released in 1954.
and compare them to
LINK WRAY - Picked up the guitar at 8 years old in 1937. First band formed in 1954, first records released in 1956.
Link Wray’s “musical timeline” is very similar with at least two Early Influence inductees.
Link is STILL in the game.
We realize the odds might be very slim, but - we are hopeful that Link Wray will be considered as an Early Influence Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee this year.
Early Influence inductees aren’t announced until all the Performer votes are in - probably around December. We’ll see.
Congratulations and good luck to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees this year.
"I don't care about (who's not in) the Rock Hall, except for Link Wray. He's not in the Rock Hall."
Thanks Dan! We hope they put you on the Nominating Committee next year!
But you know, after a dozen years of letters and petitions and trying to reach out, I'm finally figuring out that it really doesn't matter.
Link doesn't need the recognition of ONE house that recognizes a wide variety of musicians under the banner of "rock and roll."
Link Wray is recognized in EVERY house, garage or basement the first time a young guitar slinger straps on his axe, turns up their amp, rips a power chord and their parents yell "TURN IT DOWN! IT'S TOO LOUD!"
That my friends, is the REAL Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
President Harris stated artists are judged for induction based on the impact of their work, influence on the genre, innovation, did they take the music in a new direction, and did the artist push the envelope. Let’s take them one by one…
IMPACT? Link Wray’s power chords and distorted sound changed the face of rock guitar forever.
INFLUENCE? Punk, heavy metal, garage, grunge…it all started with Link.
INNOVATION? First to use intentional distortion. Invented the power chord.
TAKE THE MUSIC IN A NEW DIRECTION? See above.
PUSH THE ENVELOPE? Rumble was banned for fear it would incite teen gang violence. The song, AN INSTRUMENTAL, was banned for the “evil influence” that the music - AND ONLY THE MUSIC - had on the youth of America.
So…why exactly has the Rock Hall snubbed Link for over 30 years? Your guess is as good as mine.
Since that time, Questlove and Steven Van Zandt spoke publicly in support of Link Wray. Jimmy Page and Jimmy Fallon played air guitar to a few chords of Rumble on the Tonight Show. The Governor of North Carolina declared Link’s birthday “Link Wray Day.” His profile had never been higher.
I had high hopes that this would be the year for Link Wray in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After all, this is the man who...
- invented the power chord
- was the first to use intentional distortion in a rock and roll recording
- was the first Native American to sell over a million rock and roll records
- is in the top 50 of Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 GREATEST GUITARISTS
- has one of only 40 rock and roll songs in the National Recording Registry
- has had numerous Rock Hall inductees cite him as a career influence
- has the only rock and roll song (an INSTRUMENTAL) banned for fear it would incite teen violence
- played rock and roll for half a century, continually releasing new music
- and so much more
...would most certainly warrant an induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after a 31 year wait!
Nope. For reasons known only to the Nominating Committee, Link Wray was bypassed for nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Rock Hall Nominating Committee members Steven Van Zandt and Questlove have publicly supported Link Wray’s induction. To those gentlemen, and other members who supported Link, thank you.
There are those that blaze the trail, and there are those that reap the rewards. Link Wray was a trailblazer.
Link Wray was ahead of his time. Maybe one day the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will catch up with him.
After over ten years of letters and petitions, I had all but given up on Link Wray ever being recognized. I was floored when the fine folks at FUTURE ROCK LEGENDS let me know (a few hours before the official announcement, no less...) that Link was finally nominated for the Class of 2014. But as everyone knows, he didn’t make the cut.
Link Wray has been eligible for induction for 30 years. Heavy metal, punk rock, surf, garage, grunge...it all started with Link Wray. Many rock fans and critics think he should have been inducted ages ago. But let’s not look backward, let’s look forward...to this year’s nominations.
If you are a member of the Nominating or Induction Committee and came across this website looking for information on Link Wray - read “LINK WRAY - 365 DAYS IN REVIEW” and the opening page of this website. You can find them here. In two short pages you can read the reasons why Link Wray is a worthy nominee...a worthy inductee....for the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Listed below are the members of the 2014 Rock Hall Nominating Committee. In all likelihood, they are on the 2015 Committee. These are the folks that nominated him last year, so if you have the urge to contact them - BE NICE and THANK them for recognizing Link Wray and his contribution to rock and roll.
Make 2015 the year to THINK LINK!
2014 ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION COMMITTEE
|Jon Landau, chairman|
Reginald C. Dennis
Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson
Steven Van Zandt
You mentioned Sonic Youth. Who do you want to get in?
I would like to see LL Cool J get in. After reading Rick James' autobiography, he was probably more rock, more arrogant, more brash. . . Rick James, I feel is worthy of it. Link Wray. Once I got the list [of nominees this year], then I was like, 'Jesus Christ.' Even one of the guys on the committee, was like, 'Yo, how come you're not championing your father?' Six is so hard to choose. If they would do 10, it would be so much easier.
FULL INTERVIEW HERE. Catch Questlove weeknights on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. (Link Wray emphasis is ours!)
Who’s missing? Two words. Link Wray. No Link Wray in the performer category and no Link Wray in the Early Influence category. For 2014, there will be no Early Influence category inductee at all.
I spoke with Link’s eldest daughter Beth Wray Webb and on behalf of Link’s family, she wanted to extend her thanks to all of Link’s fans for the votes and overwhelming support for his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination and hopes for his induction. Link’s son Shayne comments, “I am proud to say his influence will continue to get a young inspired guitar player to pick up a guitar and play.”
Thank you very much to the Rock Hall Nominating Committee for doing the right thing and nominating Link Wray for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those folks know their rock history and Link’s place in it.
It’s an honor that Link Wray was nominated, but it’s very disappointing when you realize that 2014 marks the 30th year without Link Wray in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s about 30 years too long.
I called members of Link's family that night with the nomination news and they were thrilled beyond words. They extend their thanks to the Nominating Committee and everyone else that has supported getting Link recognition.
It’s now December 10th. Here’s where we are in the induction process -
- The fan ballot has closed. Thank you to the 18,337 who voted for Link Wray.
- These votes place Link second from last on the fan ballot, and 58 votes behind Chic.
- The top five vote getters on the ballot will receive one vote each - KISS, Nirvana, Deep Purple, Yes and Hall and Oates. Congratulations!
- The ballots of the Voting Committee - 600 people - are due today.
- The inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be announced on December 17.
Should fans of Link Wray be worried about the fact that Link scored low on fan ballot? Of course not.
Link Wray’s true hope on getting inducted lies in the remaining votes that were cast. Many of those votes came from music critics and historians who know the history of rock music, and how Link Wray’s contribution changed the face of rock and roll.
Every living Rock Hall inductee casts a vote as well. If those Rock Hall inductees ever used a Power Chord or distortion in their music...the music that got them to the Rock Hall...they owe a debt of gratitude to Link Wray. In just under a week, we will see if these folks said “thanks” by casting a vote for Link Wray.
THERE is a FAN BALLOT this year, so YOU can have a say! VOTE FOR LINK WRAY NOW!
Thank you all for your good thoughts and support of Link Wray. THINK LINK!