Archive for the Interviews Category

Interview w/ Ed Cynar

Posted in Interviews with tags , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by inductlinkwray

The following is an interview I have had the honor to conduct with Ed Cynar. He is a longtime bassist for The Raymen in addition to several other Washington D.C. area bands. I was particularly honored to do this with him as he spent several years playing and recording with Link Wray. Ed can be heard on a vast number of Link recordings including many of the reissues and compilations that have been put out. This interview and my many conversations with him has provided me with much knowledge about all things Link which I previously didn’t have.
The Raymen currently perform as and I suggest viewing their myspace page. The current lineup consists of Ed on bass and vocals, John Van Horn on guitar/vocals and Pat Greenwood on drums/vocals. Thank you, Ed for taking the time for this interview with me.

1. Can you share with us how it was to share the stage and record with Link?

Link was a huge presence on stage. He looked the part and played like it, too. He always seemed to be able to find the people for The Raymen who knew and loved his style and could play it the way he wanted it to be played. Being there with him was a bit overwhelming at first, but after a short time it became almost second nature. I was always amazed by the enthusiastic crowd reaction we always got. We always felt special with Link. One thing that was essential is that we were, as a group, remarkably tight. Everyone knew the material exactly and provided the basis for Link to expand on. He would often do unexpected things and we would have to be alert to follow him. He was an amazing musician.

We did most of our recording after we finished playing at 2:00 a.m. We would ride back out to the studio in Accokeek, MD and get right on it. Most of the time Link knew exactly what he wanted to do and would discuss it with us. We got most songs down in very few takes. There were times when he would have an idea that we would go over and try out things to get the effect he had in mind. He was open to ideas from all of us, and once I even ended up arranging one of the songs that he was having trouble with. Link’s brother, Vernon (Ray Vernon), was usually at the board and was very skilled in getting Link’s music onto the 3-track Ampex machine. What was also very interesting was being there when Link tried something new for the first time. Once Ray hooked up a hose to a speaker driver and Link played wah-wah for the first time. Another time he recorded all the solos on I’m Branded with one hand after tuning down to G. He played in the A positions, we played in G. We did so much recording back then that it became routine.

2. What was touring like?

Touring with Link and the guys was probably the most fun I have ever had. Unlike some of the later groups, we never did anything too crazy and behaved ourselves very well. However, we used to carry on continually in the limousine. Link always sat up front with Shorty Horton who drove. Doug Wray, Chuck Bennett, and I sat in the back and would torment Shorty for the entire trip. Link, who knew exactly what we were up to, would occasionally turn around with his big smile. Shorty, on the other hand, would pretend like he was ignoring us. We did a lot of college shows in those days at schools like Cornell, Colgate, Dartmouth and others. The reception we got from those kids was outstanding. They knew Link and once even had a birthday cake for him at Cornell. We also got to meet some of the other popular acts in the mid 60s, and had time to sit with them and talk. Often, some of the locals would take us out around town after the shows. The people we played for and met while touring were always nice to us. And, yes, there were a number of ladies, too! I don’t recall any problems encountered while touring. Link would always take me along when he did interviews at the local radio stations in whatever city we were in. I enjoyed the touring much more than the night-after-night work in DC.

3. Can you describe some of the clubs that Link and The Raymen played in? I have heard that the band had to arm themselves at some of the gigs.

The stories about being armed are much exaggerated. That happened only once and that was at the old 1023 Restaurant in Southeast Washington, DC. We had gotten word that one of the biker gangs was going after Link because he was seeing a girl that they knew. So, on only one night, I had a handgun on stage on top of my bass speaker cabinet wrapped up in Link’s black and white Rumble jacket. Nothing ever happened. I still have that handgun, but Link’s jacket mysteriously vanished from Ray’s house. Link gave it to me to wear for luck when I got drafted and was heading off for induction. While in basic training, I sent it back home with the rest of my civvies. When I got back on leave, I took it back out to Ray’s house and returned it. Somehow, it disappeared from there. Now, to be honest, all of us, except Jack Van Horn always had a stiletto in our back pocket just in case. The clubs we played in ranged from very nice to dumps. Fortunately, most of them were nice. Link needed larger clubs to play in because he played so loud. When he played loud, we had to play loud, too. Earlier, Link had been playing at some not-so-nice places in the DC area. The one in particular that has received the most notoriety is Vinnie’s that was located on the corner of 10th and H Streets, NW. It has been torn down for probably over 40 years now. That was a popular spot for many gang members and they had little impatience for idiots or smart asses. They didn’t even like each other! You could be sure most of them were armed and they were not afraid to use what they had with them. There were always fights breaking out and often they would progress out the door onto the sidewalk and street. Vinnie’s was a small club and Link would play from the bandstand in the front window about 3 feet high. When a fight broke out he would jump down and head out the door by where he always stood. The band would head across the street to DeVito’s Restaurant and drink coffee until things settled down. Even at the 1023, a good number of the regulars were armed with various implements of destruction ranging from stilettos to brass knuckles, to firearms. On the road we played at shows, colleges, clubs, TV shows, etc. Most of the clubs we played while touring were very nice in comparison to the DC clubs.

4. Can you tell us some about the D.C. music scene of the 50s and 60s?

Back then the DC scene was predominantly rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and soul music. There were a few country music clubs also, but loud rock was most common. There were a lot more places up and running back then. Some of the things from back then have not changed. For example, the press consistently ignored Link even though the radio DJs liked him a lot. The snobbish attitude of the press continues to this day. The writers have their “friends” and those are the only people ever publicized. Link was never into sucking up to anyone for anything. He was a genuinely nice guy, but I suppose that was not enough for the press. One thing that probably did have an effect in this regard is the fact that the places Link played were not the “nice” clubs in DC. His clubs were usually in the rougher parts of town although he always attracted people from all over the DC Metro area. Perhaps the writers were afraid to go there. Back then you were likely to see people like Jimmy Dean, Roy Clark, Roy Buchanan, Charlie Daniels, and many others playing at local clubs. One other thing is that people went to the clubs to dance back then. You don’t see as much of that now. They stand in front of the stage and watch.

5. Do you know anything about Link’s days in Lucky Wray and Palomino Ranch Gang/ Pine Wranglers?

I really don’t know too much about those days before the Raymen. Back then Link’s brother was the featured vocalist in the act. When it became clear that he was not going to make a big splash, the group changed its style and became the trio Link Wray and The Raymen. Ray took over management and recording responsibilities. I’m sure the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll had a lot to do with that evolution. Many young singers were coming out and Ray was not getting any younger.

6. Can you tell us about some of the other bands you have played in such as The Pack and The Fender Benders?

Link stopped using Link Wray and The Raymen as his billing in the late 1960s. That was probably because all of the old Raymen, except Doug, had gone on to other things. The main reason for that was the lack of pay for all the work we did. No one could survive on what Ray wanted to pay them. Then Link left the area for Arizona in the early 1970s. So, Jack Van Horn and I began to perform together with various drummers and other band members. We would bill as The Fender Benders (Jack’s old group that he started in about 1957 and the group from which both Jack and I joined Link), Face Value, The Pack, and John Van Horn and The Fender Benders. We also did a lot of recording and had a number of 45 rpm releases on “Briarwood”, “Slash”, “Rumble”, and “Fender Bender” Records (all of which we owned). We continued to play in Link’s style the whole time and played a lot of his songs. On the few occasions when Link returned to the DC area, Jack and I would play with him at local gigs. By that time, Doug had stopped drumming so we would have to find a local drummer to fill in. That did not work well until we found Pat Greenwood.

7. What was your favorite recording that you did with Link? or your other projects that you have been involved with as well?

Two songs stand out because they were different. One was Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” that Link arranged as a very upbeat sounding song. It had an unusual beginning with just Link and I playing and a very full guitar sound. The other was “I’m Branded” because of the unusual solo method Link used. The original title was “Branded”. After it was released on Swan Records, Swan was contacted by the Producers of the TV show Branded (Chuck Connors starred). They threatened to sue because of the name. So, they changed the name to “I’m Branded”. The original demo copies that were produced all had the title as “Branded”.

8. Do you feel that Rumble could’ve been a number 1 hit had it not been banned from airplay in many major cities?

It’s hard to say. There were a lot of really good songs that came out in 1958. There was Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee, The Everly Brothers, and others. Although instrumentals were still very popular then, most of the music was vocal. Rumble had a wide appeal, but I’m not sure that the younger kids appreciated it as much as the older ones and musicians of the time. Back then those in their early teens bought most of the 45s. Also remember that rock ‘n’ Roll was the devil’s music in those days.

9. How much influence do you feel Link Wray and his song Rumble had on Rock and Roll?

I think the song’s influence manifested itself more in the musicians who were intrigued by it rather than any radical change in musical direction. The sound was certainly new and different, foreboding perhaps. It was also hard to classify. They ended up calling it an R&B genre song in the beginning because there was nothing to compare it to. What it did was to inspire people to start playing and expand the boundaries of what they had been hearing. Link introduced distortion, the power chord, and a darker side of the music with that song. When you listened to it, you went through an emotional experience. The remarkable thing about the song is its simplicity (although the vast majority of people even to this day do not play the correct strum chord in the middle of the song).

10. Can you tell us about some of the other Raymen? Doug, Ray, Chuck, Ed, Jack, Pat, Shorty, John, Dixie, and other players like Bobby, Ritchie, John etc. ( I just don’t feel enough has been documented on The Raymen. So who better to ask)

These are some real characters. Doug was the best drummer I ever played with. That was because he was always on time and kicked the heck out of his kit. He and I were always in perfect sync because we both knew what each of us would be doing. On recordings you could sometimes hear what sounded like extra bass notes, but they were actually Doug’s bass drum complementing what I was doing. Doug was the practical joker of the group, especially when it came to Shorty. He never let up on him and the rest of us would be laughing uncontrollably. He was very easy going and even tempered. I never heard him raise his voice in anger. He was fun to be around.

Ray always seemed to know exactly what to do and when it should be done. He made all arrangements for the group and was probably one of the best recording engineers I have ever worked with. Remember that in those days engineers had very little to work with as far as tracks and electronics were concerned. He only had 3-tracks in those days. There was a lot of overdubbing necessary. Ray could do that exceptionally well. He had a great ear for the “end” sound that would result and often made recommendations in the recording process. Between Link’s ideas and Ray’s ability to get the sound Link wanted, they made a great pair. You’d always see Ray in a suit and tie. He knew the music business well.

Chuck Bennett was an outstanding singer. He would always sing most of the soul and screaming songs since he had a great voice and presence for those styles. He had long hair and was skinny as a rail like Link. He was also probably the hardest working guy in the group. Chuck was the one who picked most of the new tunes we played and went over them with Doug and me at the studio. Most times we would try them once or twice and perform them the same night. His singing was intense on stage and the fans loved him. He was great fun to be with and we had some fun times together. As I think I mentioned, I heard recently that he is in a nursing home because of severe breathing problems. I have not seen him for many years, but the last time I saw him he had gained a huge amount of weight. I was told that he still is pretty heavy. He gave up the music business not too long after he left The Raymen in the 1960s. He just got fed up with things. He had all the talent anyone ever needed to be successful, but he never got a break.
(Since this interview Chuck Bennett has passed away on January 29, 2009)

Jack Van Horn was a close friend for 40 years when he passed away. We did a lot of things together both in and out of the music. We lived fairly close to each other most of the time and I saw him very often and we talked on the phone constantly. We tried some business ventures together and were always up to something. When we played with The Raymen, Jack usually sang the ballads, slow songs, and some of the R&B numbers. He had one of the best and cleanest voices I have ever heard. I never heard him sing a bad note. Jack also played guitar when Link was not on stage. He could do all of Link’s material very authentically. Since I was the “kid” in the group, he always looked out for me and drove me around places that I needed to go. I still think about him every day.

Shorty was a very reliable bass player and friend. You could depend on him to do what he said he would do. I don’t know of anyone who was as loyal to the Wray family as Shorty was, even though he was not compensated much for all he did. Doug could get Shorty to do almost anything. He would just harangue him until he did it. That’s why Shorty showed up one day with a mohawk haircut! He was no kid; he was Ray’s age. It is interesting to note that when Shorty played the bass on Rumble he used a stand up bass. Because of that he played in a certain way. When he got his electric bass, he played the song differently because he had more options. That is why some recordings of that song sound a bit different. On some his bass runs go down, and on others they go up. After his time with Link, he took up barbering and played with local country groups in the area. He was the first of the guys to die.

Bobby Howard was an excellent singer and was very intense. He was with Link before Jack and I started and was gone by the time we got there. He went on to front The British Walkers out of DC with Roy Buchanan on guitar. They were a very popular group in the early to mid 1960s and had a permanent gig at The Roundtable in Georgetown. They also toured on the college circuit and in other shows around the country. After Link signed with Polydor, Ray got Bobby a deal for an album that he put out under the name of Mordicai Jones. That didn’t do anything, and Bobby eventually got away from the business. He sold cars for a while in Virginia. I hear he is in Florida now.

The only times Richie Mitchell and I have been on stage together were for a few days with The Fender Benders at The Oasis in 1964 when I subbed for Jack Van Horn who was ill, and at the first Link Wray Tribute in 2006. Richie is an excellent bass player who fit in perfectly with the style Jack and Link played. When I asked Ray to move strictly to the touring gigs with Link, Richie took my place at the daily shows at the 1023 for a few months before he left, too. As far as I know, he never played with Link again. He would be out at the studio a lot of the time and was an excellent technical resource who Ray relied on to get things set up. He would often make the cords and connectors used during recording and could rewire or fix just about anything. I learned much of what I do from watching Richie with the old Fender Benders. Richie also played with Bobby Howard before Bobby started The British Walkers. After his time with Link, he played mostly country music with members of his wife’s family. After Jack died in 2002, Richie took The Fender Benders name and now performs with that group playing oldies.

John Van Horn, Jr. (John) was just 16 years old the first time he played with Link, his father, and me. Link stayed with Jack for almost a year in 1983 and John learned everything Link would teach him about his style of playing. John has a steel trap memory and the skill to go with it. He plays Link’s music in the most remarkable manner I have heard. It is impossible to tell the two apart. He also makes guitars and has plenty of other skills and talents. He is also fronting his own group, The John Van Horn Band. They are just now getting started. John and I wrote and arranged most of the songs on the “Jack Van Horn and The Fender Benders” CD.

Pat Greenwood has been a steady resource for us on drums since about the late 1970s. He has done a good bit of recording with Link, Jack, John, and me over the years. He is very capable with Link’s music and plays with a lot of intensity. Pat was the second (and last) drummer we had in The Pack.

11. What equipment was often used for recordings and performing? amps, guitars, speakers etc.

In the 1960s, Link Wray and The Raymen used some pretty basic equipment. Link used a Gibson Firebird guitar run through a Fender Twin Reverb and a PA speaker (Jack also used this setup). Chuck had a normal guitar and a much smaller amp. Doug had a very nice Ludwig drum kit and always had a tambourine on his hi-hat. I used a Fender Precision Bass and Shorty’s Ampeg B-1 connected to a Fisher pre-amp run through a 40-inch Voice of The Theater speaker. Link used no pedals or any other devices when he played. When recording, a piano would sometimes be added and Ray or Chuck would play that. Once in a while in the earlier days, Ray would have a sax player come over for specific songs. I recall on one of Ray’s songs Jack and I, who went to the studio to finish up the track, had to use a cardboard box for drums since Doug’s kit was still at the 1023. Once Ray ran one of his daughter’s pajama tops through my bass strings to get a more muted sound on one track. When on the road, we always carried all of the usual equipment with us. Link has had many guitars over the years, Gibson, Yamaha, Fender, Supro, Danelectro, etc. Rumble was recorded through an old Premier Amp. I know Richie has the PA speaker and he may also have the Premier. There were no gimmicks with Link. He didn’t need them.

12. How is your hearing after playing with Link?

The practical question! As it turns out, I have noticed for some time that my range of hearing has diminished somewhat over the years. I do have a bit of trouble hearing my granddaughter especially when the TV is on. But, fortunately, I don’t have any serious problems – yet. I am a bit concerned, however.

13. Can you tell us some of the musical influences of Link Wray and The Raymen?

The artist that Link thought the most of was Elvis. He also was a fan of Bob Dylan. Link and I went to a Dylan show in Baltimore in 1965. We sat pretty high up and no one even recognized Link. He recorded songs by both of them. In addition, he was very fond of Duane Allman. He was also influenced by some of the older blues singers. The Raymen were influenced by Link Wray! We grew up hearing his music. The group without Link on stage (when Jack played) was heavy into R&B and soul music because of the beat. If there was a hit song released, you could bet we would be playing it a day or two later. Don’t forget that we had to play for 5 hours a night! Then came The Beatles. We did just about everything they put out in the early days.

14. Do you feel that Link Wray deserves to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Do you think he will be?

Link should have been inducted into one of the first classes. His absence is a stain on that organization’s credibility especially because of some of the lesser talents already inducted. Link is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, but most of his music was not in that genre. Several people have begun petitions and I know the family has even spoken with HoF people. No one knows what is up for sure, but I would bet it has something to do with Olive. I have heard that she has never met anyone in the business she didn’t piss off. Link should be in the HoF. What happens in the future is anyone’s guess.

15. How is it playing with the current Raymen and what does the future hold for you all?

I have not enjoyed playing so much as I do now since we adopted the current trio format with John, Pat, and me. The sound is so much like what I remember from the early days that it is stunning. In addition, because we all know Link’s music over the years, we can play all of the material that he could not play while touring. He often picked up musicians for each tour who did not know his songs. They would even mess up his main instrumental hits. He seldom had a drummer who could match Doug for intensity.
As far as the future is concerned, we are not sure. We have tried very hard for the past year to get connected with a booking or management agency to no avail. We have had several deals in various stages for U.S. tours and overseas tours, but things never got worked out satisfactorily. A lot of local promoters have contacted us for individual shows, but frankly the expenses we would incur precluded us going because of the fee requirements for a single show. No one has yet been able to put together a reasonable tour even over a couple of weeks that would have sufficient shows to make the travel and effort worthwhile. We are still looking for someone to handle those aspects for us. Link played at clubs all over the country to his many fans. We can bring that same music back to them if and when the opportunities arise. Our MySpace site has generated over 90,000 hits and we have over 6,000 friends. Many ask when and where we are playing. It has gotten very frustrating to not be able to respond positively. The fans are there.

Interview w/ Eric “Danno” Geevers

Posted in Interviews with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by inductlinkwray

Here is an interview I was fortunate to have with Eric Geevers. Eric played in the Acemen a band that toured Europe and elsewhere backing Link Wray. They also played on the Barbed Wire and Shadowman albums. Eric played bass guitar for Link. He continues to play and record with current projects. Eric can also be seen on The Rumbleman dvd. I particularly like what he does on the bass for ‘Batman’.

Thank you Eric for taking the time and granting me this interview.

I guess I would like to know some about your first contact with Link and when he asked you to play with him?

Well – when Link’s music was used in Pulp Fiction, and other films, he wanted to go touring again, and he told his (then) management he wanted a young band “who can play loud, and rock, like Nirvana or Green Day“. And since me and Rob Louwers (on drums) had done a tour with Rudi Protrudi playing lots of Link Wray stuff, we were asked to play with The Man Himself… that was fantastic, of course. I mean, on the sleeve photo of the very first record I ever made with a band, I have a drawing of Link Wray on my jeans, and a couple of years later I’m his bass player! Mindboggling…

We got a tape that Link had made for us, with him talking, “I want to do this next song” and you’d hear, say, Raw Hide or whatever…
We first met in a hotel lobby, and the first thing he said was “if you play as good as you’re lookin’, it’s gonna be great” – which I thought was a bit funny, but then he told us he had just got some eye surgery, and his sight was suddenly a lot better. Otherwise he hadn’t noticed how we looked! On the other hand, if he really thought we were handsome, his eyesight wasn’t as good as he thought it was – ha!

How you and the others felt learning that Link was a fan of Link Protrudi and The Jaymen?

To be honest, Link hadn’t heard any Jaymen records until we played them to him. He knew that we had toured, playing his songs with Rudi, and I know for a fact that Rudi has mailed Link those Jaymen albums. But they never reached Link, and it’s my personal belief that for some weird reason Olive didn’t want Link to see them. When he saw those albums, when we played them to him, he was touched – and he loved it! He did a couple of shows in a Jaymen shirt that says something. You can see it on the Rumble Man DVD, I think it’s released in the US as King Of Rumble. Oh, and he also had an Ace-Tones shirt he was wearing on stage a lot, the Ace-Tones being the garage rock band me and Rob were in at the time.
He was always telling journalists about our band, too, “Eric and Rob have their own band, and I don’t want to steal them from the Ace-Tones, but I’m really happy to have them playing with me – come here, guys, I’m just telling this journalist about your band…” Of course, that journalist wouldn’t be interested in our band, but I guess Link sometimes got tired of answering the same questions over and over again. I never heard him taking the piss though,he was always serious when being interviewed. Or maybe once or twice… I remember in Australia, we did a TV thingy, and Link was being interviewed by a beautiful black girl, and when she asked how important his guitar was to him, Link kept a straight face and said something like “oh, you know, a man’s gee-tar is somethin’ like an extension of his dick, right?”

I suppose they cut that part from the actual broadcasting…

Some of the equipment- guitars, speakers, amps etc. Link and the band were using during your time with him.

Oh maaaaaaaaaaaaan! Don’t get me started on that! Link used to turn his amps all the way up in the fifties and sixties, and he simply adopted that same attitude to the amplifiers he used later on, regardless of the fact that those were way, way louder. When we did the first show in London, the Ace Records 20th Anniversary, Link had two Fender Twin amps, one on each side of the drum riser, and both turned all the way up. Literally, all the knobs (except for the reverb) set to maximum! For most gigs we used a Marshall JCM800 or 900 head with a 4×12 speaker cab, and Link put those at max volume too – through a Boss CS3 Compression Sustainer, with also all knobs clockwise to the max… and then he would complain about the uncontrollable feedback squeals! We turned the speaker cabinet back to front… well, that helped only just a bit…

So we decided it was time for a little trickery. We took off the gain knob from the amp, set the gain pot to 3/4, and put the knob back on with a little glue, so that it looked like it was set to 10 but was actually set to 6 or 7. Link walked on stage for sound check, looked at the amp, saw all knobs turned to the right, and was surprised at the (still deafening, but controllable) sound. “It was the tubes, right? You put new tubes in it!” We never told him…

All through the recordings and touring, Link used a Yamaha guitar, to be precise a mid-sixties Yamaha SG-2, called ‘Screaming Red’. It was pretty beaten up, two of the strings wouldn’t even go over the bridge saddles, but in between them instead. When I said I could fix that Link said “no, leave it, it’s working fine.” Amazing thing: it was. The intonation was good the way it was, which is a one in a million chance if you put your strings on like that. It should have been impossible to tune, let alone play.
Link didn’t want a backup guitar brought on tour. When he broke a string, either me or a tour manager would change the string on the spot, as quickly as possible, with Link telling stories to the audience. At one point we learned to change a string while Link was playing – he’d do a Hank Williams tune, or an Elvis ballad that needed no bass or drums, and I’d be putting on a new string…

working around him playing. The first time I was sweating blood, but then someone told me it looked just great, and I just thought what the hell. I think that’s how we started doing “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You”, with bass and drums coming in halfway, but maybe we did that earlier on, I don’t know.

Anyway I played an old Höfner 500/1 ‘beatle’ bass with Link (though in the studio, I used my Rickenbacker 4000 most of the time), and I had the Höfner strapped to my wrist – no shoulder strap! Played great, looks cool, and Link loved shit like that. We had some fun when we observed that halfway the 4th or 5th song, we could pick always out guitar (or bass) players, by the way they were nudging each other, pointing at the ‘no shoulder strap!’ trick… sign language…!

As for Rob, he preferred playing his own drum kit, but sometimes we had hired kits. Some of them were great, sometimes they were crap, and sometimes he used the support band’s drum kit if that was a better one. I used a Kustom 250 amp until it broke down, and then brought my Vox AC50 with Foundation cab, but some tours were done with the gear hired locally. I hate modern amps like Trace Elliot, I’m sure it’s fine equipment but now for the sound I want to hear. Sometimes I had a modern amp with all kind of shit I don’t need, like a 10-band graphic EQ. Hey, if you need a 10-band graphic equalizer on your amp, you should buy a different bass, dude.

What it was like recording with him? How was he in the studio?

It was fun, hard work, not stressful, and sometimes… almost telepathic. And some of the songs he wanted to record were thoroughly road-tested. In fact there were studio musicians booked for the Shadowman recording, but Link told Ace Records’ Ted Carroll to dismiss them, he wanted me and Rob to do the recording because the live shows were really working out. Rob is one hell of a drummer, not just technically, but he has a quality not many drummers have… he listens. Lots of drummers feel, deep down in their heart, that the rest of the band has to follow them – and bless them, but Rob and me had to follow Link like shadows! With the Raving Bonkers (aka the Flying Tygers) I’m in now, it’s drummer Barry who is keeping the whole thing from derailing disastrously, and we take his cues. But he has that same quality, he listens too.

But Link, Rob and me, we were sometimes almost telepathic, like I said, and rhythmically Rob could follow Link everywhere. Some of the songs we recorded were road-tested, yeah, but some were mere sketches, given a quick run-through in the studio once or twice with Link doing two completely different versions, and then he would say “OK roll the tape!” And then he’d do things totally different – again. I sometimes had to overdub bass parts where Link had put in sudden changes, when telepathy wasn’t enough, so to speak.

There were not really many edits done afterwards, in the mixing stage I mean. As far as I can tell there is one huge edit: on Born to Be Wild on the Barbed Wire album. Link wanted us to play it like we did live, including a short bass solo where I would quote some bass riffs from a handful of other songs (I got that idea from one of my predecessors!), including some Dead Moon, The Who, Jimi, Sonics… and that was all cut from the final mix. I don’t feel bad about that really… however, the way it has been edited now, you can hear an edit with a tempo change that smells like burning rubber. Ah well, it was probably the way Link wanted things done. And when he wanted something, it was for a reason, I tell you.

I remember I was doing the Vox organ for ‘Run through the Jungle‘, and halfway Link winks, signaling me to play on, and suddenly hits the keys with his full right arm – whaammmmmmm! And again, whaammmm! And I’m going ‘what the fuck, that ruins the whole organ part’, but when I heard it in the final mix it sounded just fine. Link knew what he was doing all right, I mean to say.

When you were with him the band was called The Acemen correct?

Yeah, well, we were billed as Link Wray and his Ace-Men a couple of times. That was a reference to the Ace-Tones, obviously, and later on when the album came out, people thought it was because we were recording for Ace Records with Link. The name wasn’t used on album sleeves, I think. And speaking of names on album sleeves, the first edition of Shadowman has my name misspelled as Eric Greevers. One R too many, since it should be Eric Geevers! Later European editions have Eric “Danno” Geevers (Danno being an old nickname…), and when the US release came out, would you believe it – they put Eric “Danno” Greevers on it…!

That still wasn’t enough, Barbed Wire mistakenly had Eric Greevers again, and a recent compilation on Ace Records even says it was one Ric Greevers playing bass on that Anniversary gig. They promised to pay attention to it in the future, but since that first release of Shadowman, the name Greevers keeps popping up every now and then. Ah well…

Rob has now adopted the name “The Ace-Men” (or “Acemen”, I don’t know) for a blues trio. He asked me if I was OK with that, since I came up with the name, but it’s fine. Sure!

How was the band to travel with on the road? How was Link on the road?

Link was a great guy. On the road, too. He wasn’t the partying kind, mainly because of his age and his health, but he enjoyed being among young people and he loved playing live, “playing to the kids, y’know”. He was happily surprised to find out that those “kids” didn’t just want to hear Rumble, but also knew songs like “Black Widow” or “I’m Branded”. Some of the songs we had played with Rudi, we had to go over them with Link – he hadn’t listened to them in ages, and he figured no one wanted to hear those. When we did “Branded” it got a huge response though!

In Australia, we had some time with just Link and the road crew (when Olive had gone home for the funeral of her mother), and that period is something that will be with me forever. The three of us already were a real band, and Link told that to journos all the time, but there and then we were almost like a gang, or something.

Olive, now… she was some piece of work and I could elaborate on her road antics extensively, but hey, I don’t want to go there.

But sometimes Link and Olive would have what can best be described as paranoia attacks. Everyone Link had played with was possibly “mad at Link” (according to Olive), and she would tell him they were all planning things to sabotage Links career, because they weren’t playing with him anymore, or whatever. Olive was always fussing about what could happen, always painting worst case scenarios that were totally out of touch with reality. And there were things like, well… I know for a fact that Link felt bad about being unable to see or get in touch with his US relatives – whether he really was unable or only believed he was, I don’t know.

I have a couple of ideas of what was going on there, but again, I don’t want to go there.

Did he ever share stories with you about other rockers he played with and befriended?

Oh sure, but he was never bragging about that. First time we met, Rob was wearing a shirt with The Who on it, and Link enthusiastically started telling about the time he was in a studio, recording, when someone grabs him from behind, lifting him up, shouting “Link Wray!! Rumble!! Rumble!!” That was Keith Moon. In fact… it was a stark naked and probably more than just mildly intoxicated Keith Moon!

It was a story I had heard before, but… to hear things like that from Link himself, it was so much fun.

But, you know, Link also told me: “there’s Link Wray: the name that’s on the posters, the legend and all that… and there’s Link Wray: the guy now talking to you. It’s the same guy but it’s something different, know what I mean?”

Well… I think I do!

Did you ever watch John Wayne movies with him or listen to Elvis with him?

Never watched movies together, and in the tour van we played mostly Ramones. I played some Dead Moon to him, and I think he liked that, and we had a Foo Fighters tape we all enjoyed. Some Motörhead, too, AC/DC… Oh wait, I remember we were playing AC/DC “If You Want Blood” in the van, with that song “The Jack”, and Link was howling with laughter when he heard the lyrics. So Olive asks: what is it they’re singing, Link? They sing “she’s got the jack, Olive.” What does that mean Link? “It’s a V.D., Olive.” A what? “That means a venereal disease, Olive.” But Link, Link, what is a venereal disease…? At that time, all in the van were laughing to tears. Well, not all

However, Link wasn’t too much focused on the past, he was watching MTV and knew what was going on. He liked the energy of punk bands, that’s for sure.

How is your hearing after playing with Link?

To my surprise, I don’t think it has suffered that much. I never used ear protection and that was pretty stupid, in hindsight. My ears are what I need to play, after all. There simply must be damage, I can’t deny that, but it’s not to the extent that I’m having trouble. I do wear protection now, in the Flying Tygers I sing too, and earplugs help with that as well.

What people sometimes forget is that Link’s hearing had suffered from his tuberculosis long before he started playing at deafening volumes. But then again… it’s safe to say that playing that loud didn’t help either!

Were you at the performance when he fell off the stage suffering a sprain?

No, I heard only about that afterward. It was in the US when he had hooked up with band members of Dieselhead… I guess they were at that gig.

I have shared some stories with them over the email… hi guys!

Do you realistically believe that Link Wray will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Yes, and I seriously think it’s about fucking time, too. I know that Link (well, not Link himself, if you see what I mean) has pushed away some of his ‘celeb friends’ and some of the people who helped him out sometimes, like David Gilmour, Bruce Springsteen… maybe they will speak up.

What does the future have in store for the X-Raymen?

Oh, I don’t know. Rob and I play in other bands, too, and every now and then we get together with the X-Ray Men. Rob jumped on stage last weekend to blow some mean, unrehearsed blues harp with the Flying Tygers, and I may drop in some Vox organ for one of his bands, you know. We’re blood brothers.

We are planning to do some new recordings for ages, with me on guitar and Rick Finck on bass (he stood in for me at a couple of shows with Link when I couldn’t make it), but both me and Rob have little time for it. On the other hand, when we have a gig, we hardly have to rehearse. Those songs are etched in our souls. As is the memory of Link Wray.


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