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The death of the power chord

Link Wray has died at 76 in Copenhagen. “… the rock guitar pioneer who gave birth to the aggressively primal sound known as the power chord on his 1958 instrumental hit “Rumble” and influenced two generations of rock guitarists, has died. He was 76. Mr. Wray moved to Denmark in 1978 into a house on an island where Hans Christian Andersen once lived.” More on his life from The State: “Wray, who played in a trademark leather jacket, developed a style considered the blueprint for heavy metal and punk music. He is best known for his 1958 instrumental “Rumble,” 1959 “Rawhide” and 1963 “Jack the Ripper.” His music has been featured in movies including “Pulp Fiction,” “Independence Day” and “Desperado. The power chord — a thundering sound created by playing fifths (two notes five notes apart, often with the lower note doubled an octave above) — became a favorite among rock players. Wray claimed because he was too slow to be a whiz on the guitar, he had to invent sounds.” Rolling Stone adds a bit more to the Link mystique. “Rumble,” the guitarist’s 1958 signature song, had the unique distinction of being widely banned by radio stations across America despite the fact that it had no words. As legend has it, Wray poked a pencil through the cone of his amplifier to achieve the song’s groundbreaking fuzz tone. Its ragged, ominous chords, overdriven and dragged to a crawl, sounded like an invitation to a knife fight. At a time of national hysteria over juvenile delinquency, many cultural scolds took the song’s implied threat literally.” There are now a ton of tributes out there, but the most interesting quotes I’ve seen are the following. “He is the King; if it hadn’t been for Rumble, I would have never picked up a guitar.” (Pete Townsend) “If I could go back in time and see one concert it would be Link Wray and His Raymen” (Neil Young) “Rumble is the best instrumental ever.” (Bob Dylan). And you’ve heard the song Rumble [mirror] if you know it or not.