Masked Musings by Eddie Angel of Los Straitjackets: How I Met Link Wray

In the summer of 1973, I was 20. I had moved to LA to be a songwriter with a piano player by the name of Dave Bloom. We were sure we were the next Lennon/McCartney -- or at least Leiber/Stoller.

We rented an apartment in Venice two blocks from the ocean, and every day I would ride my bike to work at a restaurant. One day Dave came home from work and said he had a gig playing piano for a guy named Link Wray. I thought, “Wow what a cool name. Sounds like some kind of futuristic car, like a cross between a Lincoln and a ray gun!”

I said, "Get me into the band. I'll play rhythm." Next thing I know, I'm in a garage in North Hollywood playing guitar face to face with Link. It was punk rock -- loud and anarchic -- a mess, to be honest, but a cool mess.

Link had just released the LP Be What You Want To Be on Polydor and was putting a band together to promote it. I never did tour with him, because I soon moved back east.

In 1980 I got a gig playing with rockabilly legend Tex Rubinowitz in Washington, D.C. Now this was Link's old stomping grounds and Link was Tex's favorite guitarist. Tex would play a tape of Link Wray's first album as pre-show entertainment before every gig. Then we learned a few Link songs and started playing them in the show -- "Run Chicken Run," "Rawhide," "Jack The Ripper." I took to Link's style like a duck to water and have been playing like him ever since.

Los Straitjackets had the honor of touring with Link in 1997. We opened some shows for him in Boston, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Philly ... that was a real thrill for me because by then he was my favorite guitarist as well.

We became friends and he told us lots of amusing stories of the early days, like touring with The Trashmen. I remember the night when Link said to me, "You know who you guys remind me of? The Ventures." I was a little deflated. I was hoping he would say we sounded like Link Wray!

Here's a link to a video of Link Wray playing "Rawhide."

And here's Eddie Angel, far left, in action with Tex Rubinowitz:

Los Straitjackets have been making their brand of raucous, instrumental rock since 1994 and have become known as one of the most dynamic and skillful instrumental bands on the planet. Their renowned live show is filled with mind-bending guitar theatrics, group choreography and fuzzed-out experiments in high-fidelity rock 'n' roll showmanship. Eddie Angel dons his black-and-gold lucha libre mask and plays guitar for the group.

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