Monday, May 25, 2009

Brando and Boozefighters; Catalyst

For those of you kats 'n' kittens who haven't seen the movie " The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando , do yourself a favor and get it. This movie defined an era that is still prevalent today.

Loosely based on an incident that happened in Hollister, California in 1949 where an outlaw motorcycle band tore up a town, it is an unwitting precursor of things to come. Many urban legends abound as to the roots of the outlaw motorcycle gang. Some say that it was a bunch of disillusioned WWII veterans who got cheap army surplus bikes. Check out the official Hell's Angels website for for some very interesting historical data.

If you look at the style of the Boozefighters, you might be amazed to see an emerging Rockabilly style way back in 1949 ! Check out those Pomps!

The December 1953 release of The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando recreates this seminal event. If you look at the style and the substance you will the see the catalyst to, which was as of yet, a nonexistent movement. Check out the Perfecto leather jackets, the cuffs on the venerable Levis' 501's ( maybe a little tighter than we're used to), the greasy pomps and the engineer boots.

The most amazing fact of this movie, is that it set the tone for a whole era that was yet to come, and that, being filmed in 1953, it predated Rock 'n' Roll. If you listen to the soundtrack, it's all freaked out Bebop Jazz.

One interesting note is that these greasy sum'bitches rode British bikes. How crazy is that? Except that the antagonist, Lee Marvin, rode a Harley. How backwards is that? Marlon (Johnny) rode a Triumph Thunderbird 6T.

Sidebar for Vancouver and Pacific Northwest residents, check the latest exhibit at the Trev Deeley collection. A retrospective of British bikes.
Canada's oldest Harley dealer, old school board track racer and biggest collector of vintage bikes.

Fast forward two years and that hillbilly cat, Elvis, hit the scene. A local Memphis style was emerging, and some cats called it Rockabilly. The origins of the word are unclear, some say that Sam Phillips coined the term ( part Hillbilly, part Rock 'n' roll)
Mainly Sam Phillips and others have claimed the title, but nevertheless a sound was born. A lot of people don't realize that Rockabilly only lasted two years.By 1957 it had all but fizzled out giving way to a more pop centered and R&B influenced mainstream A localized Tennessee phenomenon at best, and once thought to relegated to obscurity, it has stood the test of time and endured for 60 years.

This is why we Rockabilly kats 'n' kittens dig this so much. It was the first Rock 'n' Roll, the first culture of rebellion and the first emergence of cool. The design paradigms of the fifties still remain cool today. It has withstood the test of time and will eternally be cool. (don't believe me? look at a picture of people in the 70's). This is why squares don't understand why they should never touch our hair.

The absolute purity of design of the Levis' 501, the Coke bottle , the Pomp, the 50's automobile, Herman Miller furniture, and Macintosh Audio components are still references for cultural cool.

The rockabilly ethic is alive and well all 0over the world. U.S.A., Canada, Scandinavia, Germany, all points in between , hell even Brazil and Japan; Rockabilly is everywhere and it rules. Judging by the ever growing popularity of events like Viva Las Vegas, Green Bay and local scenes everywhere, we are here to stay.

Adios for now, kats.

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