Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Contributed the power cord to rock and roll

Native Americans Rock

May 2, 1929 – November 5, 2005

When speaking about “Dark Star,” members of the Grateful Dead said that the song is always playing and they simply wade into its river, swim in it, and wade back out after awhile. Put another Grateful Dead way: the music never stopped.

I recently had the good fortune to watch RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World, a feature documentary about the role of Native Americans in popular music history.

Among the Native Americans featured in this excellent film is Link Wray.

I sometimes fool myself into thinking that I know a lot about rock and roll. After all I’ve been listening to it my whole life, but like any interest, there is always something new to find.

Link Wray was, much to my embarrassment, something new to find.

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Link Wray

Wray was born in North Carolina. Both his parents were Shawnee. He served in the US Army during the Korean War. He lost a lung  there to tuberculosis and  doctors said he’d never sing again.

Perhaps he didn’t sing that much, but he did play.  In 1955 recording for the Starday label as a member of Lucky Wray & the Palomino Ranch Hands.  Brother Vernon sang, brother Doug played drums, and Link played guitar. Hillbilly rock.

According to a Guardian article, Wray said, “I was looking for something Chet Atkins wasn’t doing, that all the jazz kings wasn’t doing. I was looking for my own sound.”

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fuzz tone

According to a Rolling Stone magazine article, “…legend has it, [that] Wray poked a pencil through the cone of his amplifier to achieve the …groundbreaking fuzz tone. 

In 1958, challenged to play a “stroll” for a teenage audience, his drummer began the beat and Wray improvised and began to fuzz tone. Initially referred to as “Oddball,” the song eventually took on the threat of the times and became “Rumble.”

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Fear of Youth

In 1958, American adults feared two things: Communism and juvenile delinquents.  Perhaps “JD”s even more with their duck-tail haircuts, knives, and rumbles. Many radio stations, fearful that the song rumble might actually incite a riot, banned the song. One of the only times that an instrumental was banned. Keep in mind the hit play,  West Side Story, that reigned on Broadway at that time with it’s Jets and Sharks.

Rumble’s chords are the fountainhead of heavy rock.  Pete Townshend stated about Wray, “”He is the king; if it hadn’t been for Link Wray and “‘Rumble,‘” I would have never picked up a guitar.

The follow-up to Rumble was, what else, Rawhide. More distortion.

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Sanitized…temporarily

As young musicians with a hit have always found, the companies that surrounded them wanted to find a way to monetize their music.  Add strings and a classic tune like Moonlight Love (Claire de Lune)

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Rumble Records

It didn’t sell because Wray’s audience didn’t want it. Link and his brother Vern formed Rumble Records.

Jack the Ripper came out of that venture.  The 1983 movie Breathless with Richard Gere featured the song. John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, and  Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction also used Wray’s music.

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Lifer

Wray continued to play, but the backwaters of rock music and never got the recognition that so many guitarists like Townshend said he deserved. Just look at Jimmy Page’s face as he listens to Rumble.

Wray married and moved to Denmark in 1980. He did not find much success there. The world of rock occasionally woke up, realized the gem Wray was in rock’s crown, but fell back asleep.

As Cub Koda wrote in an AllMusic bio of Wray, “Link Wray may never get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but his contribution to the language of rockin’ guitar would still be a major one, even if he had never walked into another studio after cutting “Rumble.”

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble

Reprise

In the 2000s, he returned to live playing and had performed forty North American dates before he returned home and died in Copenhagen.  He was seventy-six. Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen both performed “Rumble” onstage in tribute

Link Wray discography via All Music 

Fred Lincoln Link Wray Rumble
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KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

Charles Eddie Moore & Henry Hezekiah Dee 
KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
Charles Eddie Moore & Henry Hezekiah Dee

May 2, 1964:  Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore (both 19) were hitchhiking on a highway near Meadville, Mississippi. James Ford Seale, believing that they were black activists, kidnapped them  and took them to the Homochitto National Forest where he, with the assistance of other KKK friends he’d contacted, tied them to a tree and beat them.

After the beating, the group put Dee and MooreHe two into a car trunk drove to them to the Ole River in Tallulah, LA. The men put  Dee and Moore into a row boat, wrapped them in plastic, tied an engine block and RR track to them, and dumped them, still alive, into the river where they died.

July 12, 1964: while looking for the bodies of  the three missing civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, searchers discover the disarticulated lower torso of Charles Moore in the river south of Tallulah, Louisiana. Moore’s body was identified by the draft card he had in his possession at the time of his death.

July 13, 1964: the disarticulated lower torso of Henry Dee was found in the river in the same area as Moore the day before.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
Seale & Edwards

November 6, 1964: after an extensive FBI investigation, state authorities arrested James Ford Seale and Charles Marcus Edwards for the kidnapping and murder of Dee and Moore.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

State charges dismissed

January 11, 1965: State officials dismissed the criminal charges against James Seale and Charles Edwards on the recommendation of the State District Attorney.  The motion had stated “… that in the interest of justice and in order to fully develop the facts in this case, the affidavits against James Seale and Charles Edwards should be dismissed by this Court without prejudice to the Defendants or to the State of Mississippi at this time in order that the investigation may be continued and completed for presentation to a Grand Jury at some later date.”

After the dismissal , the FBI actively continued to investigate the murders to no avail.

January 14, 1966,  the subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was investigating Klan activities, called Seale and nine other alleged Klansmen from the violent White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Those called included Seale’s father, Clyde Seale, and Charles Marcus Edwards, his alleged accomplice in the Dee-Moore murders.

The Klansmen repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment, while the chief investigator Donald T. Appell and House members placed into the record what they believed the men had done, including kidnapping and murdering Dee and Moore. (NYT abstract)

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

A brother’s persistance

In 1998 Thomas Moore, the older brother of Charles, began to work on the case. Then living in Colorado, he wrote to District Attorney Ronnie Harper  asking him to look into his brother’s murder. Harper agreed.

investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell 
Jerry Mitchell at his desk at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Various media journalists began to look at the story again, including Newsday20-20 and investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell of The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi). On January 14, 2000.

Mitchell reported that the murders occurred on federal land. This spurred the FBI to take another look, as the location gave them jurisdiction.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
David Ridgen & Thomas Moore

Filmmaker David Ridgen of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation contacted Moore. Together they went to Mississippi and on July 7, 2005, Ridgen began shooting the documentary Mississippi Cold Case, about the events of Moore’s brother’s murder. 

Part of the challenge was that they were operating under the impression that Seale had died, but locals revealed that he was still alive.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

The federal trial

July 25, 2006: a federal court granted Charles Edwards immunity from prosecution. In his testimony,  In his testimony, Edwards will say that he aimed a shotgun at the victims while Klan members beat them, that he saw the victims stuffed alive into a trunk and driven away, and that Seale later reported he and others drowned the two men in a bayou of the Mississippi river. (Northeastern article)

January 24, 2007: a federal grand jury indicted James Ford Seale. 

June 14, 2007: James Seale convicted by a federal jury on one count of conspiracy to kidnap two persons, and two counts of kidnapping where the victims were not released unharmed.

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore
James Ford Seale

August 24, 2007: James Ford Seale was sentenced to three life terms. (NYT article)

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

Conviction overturned/upheld

September 9, 2008: a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the kidnapping conviction of James Seale.

June 5, 2009: an en banc panel of the Court of Appeals upheld James Seales’s original conviction. The defense counsel appealed to the US Supreme Court.

November 2, 2009, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting the lower rulings stand. (Fox News article)

August 4, 2011: Seale died in prison. Thomas Moore, Charles’s brother, who had helped renew the case, said in a statement regarding Seale’s death, ““Rejoicing? That’s not in my nature…. All of that is behind me. I lived through the process. I hope he found peace with his God.” (NYT article)

  • 2007 Jackson Free Press article entitled,   “James Ford Seale: A Trail of Documents Tells the Story.”
  • NPR timeline.
  • coldcases.org article

Aftermath

KKK kills Henry Hezekiah Dee Charles Eddie Moore

 

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