10/03/2019: “Rumble” by Link Wray & His Ray Men

Music gets banned for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes, the lyrics are too obscene. The song might be too subversive on a political level. But getting an instrumental guitar song banned takes some doing!

The song was banned from being played on the radio in the U.S.A. because there were fears it could encourage teenagers to take part in gang fights. This was because the song’s name is “Rumble” and it sounds quite menacing.

The song was pioneering for its use of distortion and other effects on the guitar, and the use of power chords. It might sound very strange now, but back then, a power chord was a very novel thing!

The fuzzy sound was created by putting holes in his guitar amp…

It’s quite a simple song, and was in fact concocted during a live show. The power chords are played slowly, ringing out with a flanger sound. The rest of the song is quite Jazzy, with the drums in particular rolling and spashing softly in a very Jazz-like way. The bassline is a slightly threatening walking bass, but nowhere near enough to ban it.

The song was released in 1958 as a single, and got to number 16 despite being banned on the airwaves!

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