Picture this. It’s February 23rd 1964 and Link Wray lies on the hard bed of some two-bit Washington motel. He gets up to mash his finished smoke into the bedside ashtray and switches on the black and white Admiral television set. With a bit of time to kill before heading to his show tonight he flicks through the channels, waiting for something to catch his eye. All the usual shit, so he plumps for the Ed Sullivan Show.
On come these four floppy haired guys from England that he’d been hearing so much about. What was all the fuss about. After watching them do Please Please Me, Link still wasn’t sure. Flicking your heard from side to side with big poofy fringes going in your eyes – that’s not what Link called rock ‘n’ roll. He wondered how anyone could buy their stuff while he hadn’t seen the charts for five years?
Disillusioned, he went into the cold, rainy night and jumped in a cab. He had to tell the driver to take him to the Howard Theatre. Problem was, he was playing the little club across the street – even on his own turf he wasn’t making it like he should.
The club was full of his usual fans and a few younger kids who had started to wear their hair long and droopy in the front, kinda like them Beatles boys he’d just watched. Link wooed the crowd with Rumble and Raw-Hide and his people loved it. A couple of the hairy ones didn’t seem that interested though - they talked among themselves and tried to act cool to the old-school dude on stage.
Fuck it. This is my turf and I can outplay these young pups every day of the week. Link turned to the band and said, “follow me”. He launched into a monstrous version of Please Please Me that little Georgie Harrison couldn’t dream of playing. There were power chords instead of head flicks and drum beats that Ringo couldn’t have driven if he’d have had Pete Best helping him. The crowd went mad and so the story goes, those kids in the crowd slinked to the toilets, wetted their combs and came back out with a quiff where the mop-top had so recently flopped.
I’m sure none of that is true, but it’s the way I see it in my mind.