LINK WRAY

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's most glaring omission

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HERSHEY PARK PENNSYLVANIA
Hershey Park Ballroom, 1958

HERSHEY PARK PA THEME PARK 1958

Irving Feld, who "packaged" tours of a dozen or so rock and roll stars on one bill in the 50's and early '60's, put together a smaller package billed as a "Summer Dance Party" to play at various amusement parks, etc. around the east and south from June-August in 1958. I was a "teenage" dee-jay at WCOY in Columbia, PA and saw the show in June at the nearby Hershey Park "Ballroom."

Link Wray and the Wraymen, augmented with a sax player who's name I never knew, were the house band, backing up the others on the tour and playing their own stuff between acts.

Headlining the tour was Frankie Avalon ("DeDe Dinah") and the Kalin Twins ("When"), along with Jan & Arnie ("Jennie Lee"), and Dickie Doo & The Dont's ("Click Clack"), plus "Ray Vernon" who did a couple of his Cameo releases, one of which I think was "Evil Angel."

Cameo ran ads in Billboard Magazine for most of its single releases and that's where I first heard of "Ray Vernon," only to discover during that tour his "true identity."

It was backstage that Link mentioned to me "Rebel 'Rouser" was going to be included on an EP that was coming out shortly.  The EP, of course, never appeared and it was later that I heard that Cadence Records put a "hold" on future Link Wray releases.

Fifteen years later, having moved to Tucson, Arizona, I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with Link and Doug when they also relocated here from Waldorf (Accokeek), Maryland, bringing the "Shack" with them on a flatbed truck. Link and the "Wraymen" did a few appearances here in '74 before Link moved on.  Vern remained in Tucson, performing regularly at several "lounges" until a year or so before his death.

"Wasted," was recorded here in Tucson and he "hawked" copies of it wherever he was appearing.  I stayed in contact with Vern for several years, but his lifestyle made it increasingly difficult to keep track of him.

Link made at least two appearances in Tucson in the late '90's.  Unfortunately I was unable to catch either of them.  I hope he returns soon.

Bob Lee Tucson, Arizona December 30, 2004
Link Wray - Hershey PA 1958