Monday, November 30, 2009

6 Types of Rockabillies.

It has been 55 years since the term Rockabilly has been coined. It is difficult to say who used it first. Johnny Burnette once claimed to have invented it. Him and his brother, Dorsey even named their sons, Rocky and Billy, respectively.

The self proclaimed " hillbilly cat", Elvis, recorded pure Rockabilly on his first sessions at Sun records. In Cantonese, Elvis is called Mau Wong, which means Cat King. That says it all.

If you're Rockabilly, chances are that you are a cool cat. You dig that crazy sound that's part hillbilly, part rock 'n' roll.

There have been several waves of Rockabilly revival over the years. The 70' British Neo scene, the 80's Stray Cats and Robert Gordon, the 9o's Hemsby scene, the 2000's Viva Las Vegas and many others.

This has spawned many sub-genres of Rockabilly culture. Which one are you?

1. The Old School.

In many instances, born in the late fifties. Having grown up with greaser parents, the old school was weaned on Rockabilly and Country.

Having been surrounded by readily available vinyl, he has acquired a lot of music over the years. Having sold it all to convert to CD's in the early 90's, he now bemoans the fact that he sold all that pesky vinyl.

He has witnessed the emergence of the Stray Cats in the 80's and has been to Viva Las Vegas. Though endowed with obsolete skills, he has learned to use a computer so that he can connect with other rockabillies, find music and book flights to Vegas.

The Old School never perceives his own advanced years, he's just as Rockabilly now as he always has been and is frozen in a greasy time warp. Gregarious in nature, most of his friends. regardless of age, are greasy.

The touches of grey in his hair, do not deter him from greasing up and getting that pomp just right, because being a true greaser, vanity has never left him by the wayside.

The Old School probably doesn't have tattoos, whether due to a fear of needles, or justifying it by observing that "Elvis didn't have no tattoos", it is irrelevant to him.

The Old School can usually be found at any local Rockabilly show, usually near the stage and consuming copious quantities of beer. While he can't party as late as he used to, he still occasionally gets into bar fights when some square gets into his face.

Will most likely end up in an old folks home, telling all the old guys to fuck off.

2. The Vintage cat.

He usually has a band, and they will play the old classics note for note. Although he has nothing but vintage threads, he is usually a king sized drag.

Obsessed with Eddie Cochran, he generally won't play any with his band, because Eddie wasn't considered Rockabilly.

Every stick of furniture in his home is vintage, right down to the knives and forks and even his socks.

This humourless cat usually doesn't drink, chase women or get into trouble and thinks Country music is stupid.

Will most likely end up wearing pants up to his chest and yelling " you damn kids get offa my lawn!" and doing a lot of muttering to himself.

3. The Hot Rodder.

This cat has gasoline coursing through his veins. While he certainly enjoys music, that his secondary to his obsession with cars.

Born with a natural mechanical aptitude, there is no other way of life for him. He can rebuild an engine with his eyes closed.

Given the choice between free beer, beautiful women or a set of Stromberg 97's, he will choose the latter.

He will gladly eat ramen noodles for a month just to buy parts for his car. All his spare time is spent building cars and that usually makes him a bit of loner.

He will drive around at night without heat or windshield wipers just to dig the sound of the engine.

You can usually see the hot rodder in the Mojave desert between Vegas and LA, broken down by the side of the road.

Will probably end up living in a garage teaching young cats about cars and convincing them to lift heavy objects and fetch beer.

4. The Collector.

This obsessive compulsive variety of Rockabilly knew how to find obscure stuff before E-Bay was ever conceived.

He has a vast collection of 45's and has a turntable that plays them. He often DJ's at Viva Las Vegas and will blank out the labels on the records so that know one will know what that song is.

He will get up at 4 am to get to a garage sale just in case they have vinyl.

The collector often has a great wardrobe of vintage clothing and thinks nothing of spending $ 800 on a vintage shirt that he saw on E-Bay from some dude in Japan.

The collector will get old, but keep looking good. Will probably be crushed to death by 6000 pounds of vinyl.

5. The Guitar Ace.

This cat was born talented. Like the hot rodder inured with innate talent, playing is second nature the Ace.

Having played many musical styles, he became enamored with the playing styles of Chet Atkins, Joe Maphis, Merle Travis and Roy Latham.

Rather than going mainstream, he decided to play Rockabilly, just cuz he digs it.

Having come to terms with the fact that won't ever make any money and remain in relative obscurity, he keeps refining his craft and gets better with age.

The Ace usually has a dozen or so vintage guitars and is constantly messin' around with them just to keep them in tune. If he sold his guitar collection, he could retire comfortably, but that is sacrilege to him.

Will live to 90 giving guitar lessons to aspiring pickers. Might be killed while trying to chop down an exotic tree needed to make a new guitar.

6. The Psychobilly.

There was never a wilder bunch than the Psychobillies. More Psycho than Billy, these kats take it to whole new level.

Loud, fast and outta control, this new breed of Rockabillies are like a cat that has had 10,000 volts run through it and let loose.

Or like a Marshall amp that goes to 11, except that this one goes to 22. The bass playing is fast, the pomps are huge and multi-colored and the creepers have extra thick soles.

They live with the intensity that was prevalent at Rockabilly's inception. Infused with a naivete and raw energy, they capture the spirit of the music as it was intended to be played, with a modern punk infusion.

They can be found at local venues, drinking astounding amounts of beer, trying to cajole old school Rockabillies to mosh.

The Psychos will live to a ripe old age while sporting green pomps. They will scare all the squares at the old folks home with their zombie movies, loud music and outrageous antics. Sneaking in whiskey and strippers, they will party right to the end. They will ask to be buried in a doghouse bass.

That's about it folks, feel free to add any observations you may have about other types of Rockabillies out there.

Rockabilly rules.

1 comment:

  1. In Europe, you can find the Teddy Boy type, who develop an english vision of rockabilly, who loves Crazy Cavan and wear edwardian clothes with a big pompadour and very long hair in the neck. You can also find a lot of people who grow up listening to the cramps and their love for strange and wild rockers (the phantom, hazil adkins, kip tyler...) and B-movies from the 50's, but they are not what you can call psychobillies, it's something else. thanx for your blog who often make me laugh my ass off. Electric eric, France.