Link Wray & His Ray Men – Rumble

When I hear this song I automatically think of Jack Rabbit Slim’s restaurant in the movie Pulp Fiction. It was played when Mia and Vincent were talking about the five dollar milk shake. 

Wray came up with this when he was asked to play a stroll at one of his shows. The song was different from other popular instrumentals, as it helped introduce gritty guitar distortion and power chords to the world of rock.

The song is credited to Link Wray and Milt Grant.

This instrumental was somewhat controversial because it implied gang violence – some radio stations refused to play it. It might be the only instrumental song ever banned on the radio. It was feared that the piece’s harsh sound glorified juvenile delinquency. Did the song cause juvenile delinquency? We can only hope. 

The song peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100 in 1958.

Pete Townshend on Link Wray: “He is the King; if it hadn’t been for ‘Rumble,’ I would have never picked up a guitar.”

From Songfacts

Wray was with Archie Bleyer’s Cadence label and he wanted to record this as a single. Bleyer was ready to pass on it until his step daughter said she liked it and that it reminded her of the rumble scenes in West Side Story. Bleyer named the song “Rumble” and decided to release it.

Wray was drafted in 1951 and fought in the Korean War where he caught Tuberculosis. As a result, he had a lung removed in 1957 and couldn’t sing. After returning from Korea, he joined his family band the Palomino Ranch Gang, and went on to record as “Lucky” Wray in 1956.

Wray used a 1953 Gibson Les Paul guitar run through a Premier amp to produce this song.

This was used in a 2017 commercial for the Ford Focus where a cat rides in the backseat and closes the window to drown out the sound of a barking dog.

The song was honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 when they announced a category for “singles.” Five other songs were selected along with it:

“The Twist” – Chubby Checker
“Rocket 88” – Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats
“Louie Louie” – The Kingsmen
“A Whiter Shade Of Pale” – Procol Harum
“Born To Be Wild” – Steppenwolf






Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

37 thoughts on “Link Wray & His Ray Men – Rumble”

  1. I’m glad for every time this song gets a mention. It was Jimmy Page in the documentary ‘It Might Get Loud’ that brought it back for me. A documentary called ‘Rumble, The Indians Who Rocked the World’ came out around the time Link Wray was in contention for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame several years ago. It’s quite good too,… available from Amazon Prime Movies, and probably other streaming services.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll have to check that out… I just read about that documentary…it looks really good. The Indians Who Rocked the World that is…

      I’ve seen It Might Get Loud and I really like that one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll say! I can’t imagine that happening today.

        Changing the subject, there’s a new documentary airing in the UK tomorrow about The Who’s album ‘The Who Sell Out’. It was filmed on the Radio Caroline ship. It’s part of the Classic Albums series. I haven’t figured out yet how to watch it here, but I’m sure there’s a way.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you! You can always change the subject and especially when the Who are involved!
        I have some UK friends who I got the Doctor Who’s when they came out…I’ll check about that.


      3. Actually, it is airing at this moment. I had my days mixed up. You can get to it from The Who’s website, if you are interested. Surely it will be available later on demand as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s like the Hall saying…here have this since you will not get inducted. Steppenwolf and Procol Harum would have an outside chance I would think.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How good is that movie? I saw it in a cinema with some biatch who I met the night before playing pool. The movie didn’t grab me at all on first take. But I now realise how Tarantino wrote his ass off with it. The writing in that is excellent and only youth can do what he did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is really good. The movie is like a puzzle that is put together in different spots and it all fits in the end. Yes…only youth can do that.


  3. Great choice of tunes to cover today. I love the background info on it. So nice it was recognized at the RnRHoF. Got a chuckle out of your comment that you hope it caused juvenile delinquency. I laugh that the censors considered banning just the sound (and an ambiguous title.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great tune, man. I’m really fond of Link Wray… so much good stuff in his catalogue. I didn’t know that radio banned this tune, though… that’s wild!

    Liked by 1 person

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