Link Wray, 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.
Wray died Nov. 5 at his home in Copenhagen, his family said on his website. Although no cause of death was given, his wife, Olive, and son, Oliver, wrote that the North Carolina native's heart had been "getting tired."
On stage, the rebel Wray never tired of wielding his ax.
"He just loved playing," said Michael Molenda, editor in chief of Guitar Player magazine, who saw Wray perform last July at Slim's, a small San Francisco club.
"He was certainly a young soul, very gracious, kind of like a punk to the end," Molenda said Monday. "He wasn't like a guy who was 76 years old. He was like a 19-year-old in a 76-year-old body."
Robert Hilburn, The Times' pop music critic, said Monday that Wray "was one of the key figures who helped establish the guitar as the instrument of choice in rock."