“Stray Cats & Rockabilly Girls”
“Don’t be afraid to take liberties with this music. Try and put some of yourself into it”. Brian Setzer
The Stray Cats are an American rockabilly band formed in 1979 by guitarist and vocalist Brian Setzer, double bassist Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom in the Long Island town of Massapequa, New York.
The group had numerous hit singles in the UK, Australia, Canada and the U.S. including “Stray Cat Strut”, “(She’s) Sexy + 17”, “Look at That Cadillac,” “I Won’t Stand in Your Way”, “Bring it Back Again”, and “Rock This Town”
“With the Stray Cats at least, we really took the music somewhere else. First, we wrote our own songs. That’s a real weak point in modern classics if you do rockabilly or blues”. Brian Setzer
Brian Setzer – lead guitar, lead vocals, percussion (1979–1984, 1986–1993, 2004–2009)
Lee Rocker – double bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals (1979–1984, 1986–1993, 2004–2009)
Slim Jim Phantom – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1979–1984, 1986–1993, 2004–2009)
“I put a metronome up to all the songs, and I tried to really keep it true to the original tempos”. Brian Setzer
“The jazz chord substitutions in a country song… that was another thing that bent people’s ears. I guess that my favorites are the unique ones. It’s not how fast you play. It’s that unique blending of different stuff I’m most proud of”. Brian Setzer
“It’s not about how loud you turn the amp up. That’s not what makes it sound big. What makes it sound big is fooling around with different delays and reverb settings”. Brian Setzer
The group, whose style was based upon the sounds of Sun Records artists and other artists from the 1950s, were heavily influenced by Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and Bill Haley & His Comets. The Stray Cats quickly developed a large following in the New York music scene playing at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City as well as venues on Long Island. When the Cats heard a rumor that there was a revival of the 1950s Teddy Boy youth subculture in England, the band moved to the UK. They then spearheaded the nascent rockabilly revival, by blending the 1950s Sun Studio sound with modern punk musical elements.
“To me, rockabilly music paralleled punk’s energy and feeling, but the players were much better”. Brian Setzer
In terms of visual style, the Stray Cats also blended elements of 1950 rockabilly clothes, such as wearing drape jackets, brothel creepers and western shirts with punk clothes, such as tight black zipper trousers and modern versions of 1950s hair styles.
The band playing in Gijon.The band first appeared in the middle of 1979 performing under a number of names including the Tomcats, the Teds, and Bryan and the Tom Cats. In 1982 they joined The Rolling Stones’ US-tour as an opening act called “The Stray Cats”. Since 1983 they have used only “Stray Cats” as their name.
The band name “Stray Cats” had already earlier appeared in the 1973 rock ‘n’ roll film That’ll Be the Day and its 1974 sequel Stardust.
“If you listen to everybody’s opinions, I mean, I always say I’d be digging a ditch on the side of the road now if I had listened to what everybody told me what to do. You know, you have to follow your heart, you have to”. Brian Setzer
“Since the big band started I’m just always swamped with movies and things. It certainly pays the bills and it’s very satisfying, because I get to write all these big charts and all this crazy music”. Brian Setzer
Stray Cats Released: February 1981
Gonna Ball Released: October 1981
Built for Speed Released: June 7, 1982
Label: EMI America
Rant N’ Rave with the Stray Cats Released: 1983
Rock Therapy Released: 1986
Blast Off! Released: 1989
Let’s Go Faster! Released: 1990
Choo Choo Hot Fish Released: 1992
Label: JRS Records
Original Cool Released: 1993
Rumble in Brixton Released: 2004
Label: Surfdog Records
“Elvis is not so difficult as Johnny Cash because his voice is so distinctive. If you try to copy Johnny Cash, it’s just going to sound dumb”. Brian Setzer
“You don’t need Marshall stacks, pedal boards, drum sets that hide the drummer, glitz to play rock and roll. In the time it takes for these guys to haul their own stuff up there and play- many bands (especially in 1983) would have some guy directing some guy who directs more guys to open up the back of a bands semi truck full of lights and not even be finished unloading and these guys would be done with their set, having a good time…” Jimmy Jazz
“It is hard to play Blue Suede Shoes. I know everyone has heard it 10 million times, and that makes it even harder to play it, but there’s a very laid back tempo on that. I was surprised at how slow it really was”. Brian Setzer
“How to Be a Rockabilly Girl”
Contemporary rockabilly aesthetics, based on specific dress, hair and makeup styles, emulate looks popular in the 1950s and give them a modern twist. The look is associated with classic car culture, and women and girls often model their appearance after ’50s pinups. A specific genre of music is also associated with rockabilly
The Kingmakers – Rockabilly Girl
You’ve got big black boots And legs up to there A dozen tattoos And slicked back hair You dance with all the rockabilly cats You know pretty baby I like it like that So come on over so I can see Sit right down and talk to me We can stay out late after the show Rockabilly girl, come on let’s go Rockabilly girl (rockabilly girl) Oh, rockabilly girl (rockabilly girl) Hey, rockabilly girl, you rule my rockabilly world
Rockabilly, rockabilly girl Thick mascara, eyeliner Your little plaid skirt never looked finer Your lips so red, that mole on your cheek Rockabilly girl, you look real sweet Girl, you heard the word on the street? We’re gonna lay down some real cool beats Friday night, come on check out the band And maybe I’ll be your rockabilly man Say rockabilly girl Rockabilly girl! Say rockabilly girl Rockabilly girl! Oh, rockabilly girl, you rule my rockabilly world Rockabilly, rockabilly girl Say rockabilly girl Rockabilly girl! Oh, rockabilly girl Rockabilly girl! Hey, rockabilly girl, you rule my rockabilly world Rockabilly, rockabilly girl Say rockabilly girl Rockabilly girl! Oh, rockabilly girl Rockabilly girl! Hey, rockabilly girl, you rule my rockabilly world