Those of us that are fans of Link Wray and listeners of quality music already knew that ‘Rumble’ was one of the original rock & roll songs. According to the way that I hear music it was the first rock song. The Rock and Roll hall of fame has ‘Rumble’ listed as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. If they really feel this way then why is he not an inductee? He made music in the 50s that was years ahead of its time.
‘Rumble’ was released in 1958 but was recorded as a demo 4 years earlier and was decades ahead of anything else on the charts at the time. In 1954 when Rumble was originally recorded, ‘SH-Boom’ and’ Shake, Rattle and Roll’ were the closest songs to rock on the charts. ‘Rocket 88′ by Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner and the Delta Cats was released in 1951 and is offically credited by the rock hall as being the first rock song.
‘Rumble’ was harder and much more original than any other song of that period. Every other song of the early rock period can also be considered rhythm and blues, rockabilly, or even country. Link Wray produced a sound that was distinctly rock and roll. ‘Rumble’ would peak at #16 on the Billboard charts despite being banned from airtime in major markets such as New York City. Had ‘Rumble’ been played on the radio in every major city it may have reached the top 10 of the charts.
It is also fitting to mention the climate of civil rights at that time. Link Wray, being 3/4 Shawnee Native American and also having only one lung achieved a major milestone for minorities in the 50s. In Texas for example I read that ‘Rumble’ was banned from radio in a certain big city only after it was learned that Link was Native American. In most of the rest of the U.S. the reasoning was that they believed ‘Rumble’ promoted gang violence. I believe it was just that Link was so far ahead of anything else that was on the airwaves in 1958 that the corporate executives in music had to keep him down. The powers that be in rock continue to keep Link on the outskirts of commercial success and recognition even today. In order to join us in doing our part to help Link Wray get inducted into the Rock Hall sign the
To view the complete list of the 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll