Link To The Past: Listen to the song that gave the Rock And Roll Rumble its name


Tonight marks the start of the Rock And Roll Rumble, a nine-night band battle that spotlights the best in our city’s live music scene. Part competition, part weeklong music festival, the Rumble is now a Boston institution. But where did the name come from?

According to co-founder David Bieber, formerly of WBCN, the “Rumble” moniker is nicked straight from the instrumental late-’50s Link Wray song, an instantly recognizable guitar-rock number that’s been featured in Pulp Fiction, the Sopranos, and music documentary It Might Get Loud.

Bieber related that cool bit of trivia to us over drinks a few weeks back at Basho in the Fens, but it’s also documented in Carter Alan’s 2013 book, Radio Free Boston: The Rise And Fall Of WBCN.


We flipped to page 170 for some sweet confirmation:

The experimental attitude was, perhaps, best exemplified by the WBCN Rock N’ Roll Rumble, an annual event in which the station sought to crown Boston’s best up-and-coming band from a field of two-dozen contenders. The local competition, spread over nine nights, was the brainchild of Bieber, who launched a prototype of the contest in 1978 at the Inn Square Men’s Bar in Cambridge.

“Eddie Gorodetsky and I came up with the original concept. We didn’t want to call it a battle of the bands, and in one of our brainstorming sessions we arrived at the title, which was sort of lined [pun intended], to the Link Wray song, [1958’s instrumental ‘Rumble’].”

For more on the history of the Rumble and its lasting legacy, check out Mick Greenwood’s excellent piece over on the WZLX page.

Tonight’s Preliminary Night 1 kicks off at 9 p.m. and features Rebuilder, Tigerman WHOA, Sinnet, and Guillermo Sexo.

Rumble Poster 2