Is Rockabilly Dead?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by montereyjack66, May 5, 2012.

  1. montereyjack66

    montereyjack66 Country Gent

    Feb 29, 2012
    Collective Wiz-dumb time, folks.

    Seeking the fruits of everyday intellectual capital from the cradle of infinite Gretschdom.

    Non-rockabilly fans are especialy invited to offer an opinion.

    Have we arrived at a point somewhere along the line where rockabilly is (or is becoming) a museum piece more than a living breathing music? Is it a living breathing part of popular culture, a fading bit of nostalgia, a frozen cartoon, shake rattle and roll skeleton upon which so much of modern music hangs upon? Is it just one of the mosaic of micro cultures that continue to thrive because of the internet age, not so different from electronica or jarrana music?

    Or is something like the Black Keys "Lonely Boy" a defacto Rockabilly 4.0?

    What say you, oh mega experienced and completely inexperienced ones? :D

  2. S. Rock

    S. Rock Friend of Fred

    to be honest, I thought "rockabilly" was gone back in the 50s not long after it got started(within a few years at least). when I first started frequenting these Gretsch forums, I could see that guys and gals were reviving the "rockabilly" scene again. it could possibly be attributed to Brian Setzer and others. but no, it's not dead yet. it's still alive and going strong.
  3. LATS

    LATS Country Gent

    Jan 3, 2010
    Kanata, Ontario
    Sad truth.
  4. dobro

    dobro Synchromatic

    Jun 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    A smart musician friend says that ALL Rock 'n Roll is now referential.

    Been chewing on that bold statement for a while, and I can find no evidence he's wrong.
  5. dobro

    dobro Synchromatic

    Jun 12, 2010
    Los Angeles

    When the first Setzer Orchestra album came out, I thought "Man; Sinatra records with RIPPIN' guitar solos!" It's a great idea, I think Setzer may be the best there's ever been at what he does, but Sinatra's not NEW. Burnin' Rockabilly isn't NEW. He put ingredients together in a new combination, and executed it masterfully. Thank God it's sufficiently beloved to sell out a week at The Bowl. But it's not like, say, "Within You Without You", when you put side two of Sgt Pepper on; THAT was new , uh, Rock 'n Roll, for lack of a better category.
  6. EasyEd

    EasyEd Gretschie

    Feb 17, 2012
    Nanaimo, BC
    Hey All,

    On one of the other rockabilly threads I posted...

    I don't know why anybody would think rockabilly is dead?

    In fact what I see it has spawned (and spawned seems to be the right word) other types of "rockabilly".

    Now I'm old enough to not be real impressed by the subject matter but musically and creatively I like it. Although in this case it does seem to explain a lot of politics. :rolleyes::p

  7. JLoud

    JLoud Synchromatic

    Nov 7, 2011
    Blue Grass State
  8. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    IMHO, the ability to record and distribute without the involvement of the big labels has breathed new life into music of all sorts. Rockabilly, Surf, Swing and any number of sub-genres were nearly lifeless for decades but have seen new production and release in recent years. It no longer takes a major slice of the market to make a genre viable. All it takes are devoted artists and a modest fan base.
  9. DrumBob

    DrumBob Friend of Fred

    Feb 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    I think rockabilly has become a caricature of itself, a cliche. IMHO, I find most of the musicians who are seriously into playing rockabilly to be just as concerned, if not more so, with their clothing, hair styles, tattoos and their girlfriend's Bettie Page looks. You have to play the "correct" guitar, have the "correct" style, look and attitude. I have spoken to rockabilly musicians who played around LA years ago, and because they didn't dress in '50's style rockabilly clothing, they were shunned and booed by the rockabilly crowd. Their look was more punk, and they took sh** for it. What does that tell you?

    I saw a photo of a European rockabilly band on this board last year. The standup bass player was wearing a tanktop style white undershirt on a gig. No rockabilly musician back in the '50's would have been caught dead onstage dressed looking like a lowclass bum. Those guys back then looked sharp.

    Today's rockabilly musicians need to move forward and stop living in the past.
  10. NickGretsch

    NickGretsch Synchromatic

    Aug 30, 2011
    Cornwall, England
    The question poses a question

    Is Music Dead? :eek:

    Well I would hope not but as in so many things, it changes and morphs, look at Psycho-Billy (or however it's spelt).
    Music gets better, just, and music gets worse, as in the chronically over produced tosh that's so prevalent in the charts.

    Rockabilly as a genre of modern popular music I'm sure still has its place and is cherished by many.
  11. Shakey1964

    Shakey1964 Gretschie

    Jan 11, 2012
    Norfolk, England
    I don't follow DrumBobs argument. If I have it right, in one breath he criticises rockabilly musicians and fans for sticking to the 50s look over musical substance and then complains that a Euro musician was wearing gear that 50s musicians wouldn't have been seen dead in... Massive generalisation in my opinion as there are a number of excellent musicians for whom the music is really the be-all-and-end-all and the style etc. are secondary concerns.

    My own view is that there aren't enough active bands in the genere (or sub-genres) and we need another big explosion (like the one in the 80s ignited by Mr Setzer) to increase popularity for another generation or two. Metal bands are ten a penny (I do love metal btw, so I'm not knocking them) and maybe that is because there is a lot of freedom to show off with a guitar?

    The other thing that maybe hampers rockabilly is that it isn't as easily definable, as other genres: where does country end and rockabilly begin, where does punk end and psychobilly begin and who makes the rules?

    The original music will never die as the earliest forms of rebel (with a lower case 'r') music are contained in thel 50s music but we need a bit of an uprising to take it back into public consciousness again, or be satisfied that it is cult or underground.

    Personally I'd love to see an upsurge particularly in the U.K where, outside of London, the is a desperate scarcity of rockabilly/psychobilly...
  12. chilton

    chilton Gretschie

    Nov 2, 2010
    Rockabilly had a strong following in my country in the late 70s- early 80s.
    If memory serves the Stray Cats got their first gold record here in Finland.
    The kids who were into it were as serious as the original English mods about the clothes and the music. But they were copying a subculture that wasn't theirs so it was never the real thing.

    "Rockabilly" is just another tag for anything that's 50s cool. People who don't know Charlie Feathers from Charlie Chan are dressing up and getting their hair done rockabilly style. Nothing wrong with that.

    You won't get a true 50s rockabilly sound from a modern band and why should you? The world has changed. IMHO Stray Cats weren't pure rockabilly to begin with. Songs like Runaway Boys and Storm The Embassy could not have been written in the 50s.
  13. Pete Gorilla

    Pete Gorilla Gretschie

    May 5, 2012

    Thats it. Period. Thats why I keep my distance from rockabilly recently.

    Rockabilly was the music of NEW, the music of the modern and contemporary young people. The today's rockabilly generation only took the nostalgic feelings and because of that, it become an order of strict rules and the basically beheaded the spirit of "new and modern" that it really was back that. The Stray Cats was really successful because the took rockabilly but relaunched it into the new wave to the direction of the future. Modern and louder sound, virtuoso playing, sometimes contemporary lyrics about modern issues, about the world.

    Rockabilly is like an ill entity in some hospital, and the rockabilly musicians as a nurse need to inject some modernity and development into it time to time to survive and keep it's greatness.

    Why the rockabilly musicians using the studio equipments of the 50's? Why the need the exact same sound? They want people thing that the Car HIFI is broken when a rockabilly song is coming following a new song of a modern style?
    Or the Mozart ethusiasts expect the Metropolitan Opera to create the exact same theatre sound and stage light system of Don Giovanni as it sounded and looked in the 1700's? I thing the sound engineer and art director will be fired.

    By the way, the same thing is happening to psychobilly. The burlesque girls, the bloody screaming pinups, rape the bass instead of playing something descent, and the "who can sing the words demon, hell and ***** more" competition. Psychobilly was an escape route to the future from the rockabilly catch 22 described above, but it become the same set of rules and mentality. Caricature of itself.
  14. lostcat

    lostcat Gretschie

    Mar 25, 2012
    As for the guys slavishly following the Rockabilly Rules I refer them to The Setzer song Really Rockabilly

    Down Here in Oz we have the Living End taking Rockabilly and bringing it up to date

    But really you could ask this question in one way or other of almost any genre and find arguments for both sides

    Music is a thing of the heart not the Head - if it moves you groove to it
  15. Pete Gorilla

    Pete Gorilla Gretschie

    May 5, 2012
    Just the lyric...

    Brian Setzer - Really Rockabilly

    Hair slicked back, they're real tough guys
    Black T-shirt and a bad attitude
    Better not step on their blue suede shoes

    Livin' in a time that's long since gone
    It's not quite right, there's somethin' wrong
    Look! There goes another Betty Page
    Get with it chick, it's all the rage

    He's really, really, really rockabilly
    Really, really, really rockabilly
    He pissed in his pants
    He's too drunk to care
    He's wearin' 1956 underwear

    There's neo-rockabilly
    There's psycho-rockabilly
    There's Starbucks-Orange-County rockabilly
    There's euro-ja-ja-wir-machen-rockin' rockabill
    There's Western-swing-traditional-blues-
    inluenced rockabilly
    There's Australian-shrimp-on-the -barbie-
    to-buy-you-rolled-up-Levi's rockabilly
    There's rock a-Johnny. rock-a-Sally, rock-a-hillbilly
    It's all so stupid, and it's just plain silly

    He's really, really, really rockabilly
    Really, really, really rockabilly
    He pissed in his pants
    He's too drunk to care
    He's wearin' 1956 underwear

    The man at the door
    He's a rockabilly guy
    He said you can't come in
    Your pompadour's too high
    Better grow them sideburns

    Get a tattoo on your neck
    Drink Pabst Blue Ribbon
    Drive a rockabilly wreck

    Has it come to this?
    I want a new job
    Rockabilly retards and rockabilly slobs
    It used to be fun just to play the guitar
    Now I just want to run real, real far

    He's really, really, really rockabilly
    Really, really, really rockabilly
    He pissed in his pants
    He's too drunk to care
    He's wearin' 1956 underwear
  16. MatchlessMan

    MatchlessMan Country Gent

    Nov 29, 2010
    Swindon UK
    Rockabilly is not dead, it just smells funny.:p
  17. nicko10_5

    nicko10_5 Synchromatic

    Sep 19, 2009
    Not dead just niche music.
  18. Tele295

    Tele295 Country Gent

    Rockabilly is not dead, it's resting. It was just about to wake up and you stunned it. Beautiful plumage, though
  19. Sharkblues

    Sharkblues Country Gent

    Aug 22, 2010
    There is only so much you can do in any musical genre before it starts sounding redundant. Rockabilly will always have a presence in our culture, sometimes more so then others. I love Ska and it like rockabilly, swing, Glam, Psychedelic,.......... keep coming back for another encore.

    Lately I'm listening to a lot of 60ish soul revival stuff like Black Joe Lewis, and others. Another example of pop culture with too deep of roots to die any time soon (decades).
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