Censorship in music is hardly a new thing, but it’s always lyrics that get the powers-that-be all twisted. But there was that one time when an instrumental was banned from American radio. Open Culture has the story.
Link Wray’s 1958 song “Rumble” remains the most dangerous-sounding instrumental blues vamp ever recorded, unmatched in its raw, slinky cool until, perhaps, John Lee Hooker’s Endless Boogie or the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat. But unlike Lou Reed, Wray didn’t need lyrics about heroin addiction and sadomasochism to freak out the parents and turn on the kids. All he needed was his fuzzed-out guitar, soaking in reverb and tremolo, and a rhythm section with the minimalist instincts of Bo Diddley’s band, who were making a similar kind of sound at the same time “Rumble” hit the airwaves.
It’s worth reading the whole story as you listen to the song.