STRAY CAT STRUTTIN’ STYLE | BRIAN SETZER AND THE BOYS ROCK THIS TOWN

I loved the early days of the Stray Cats back when they were young, raw and fresh from Long Island. Seeing lil’ Brian Setzer in these grainy old pics (if you can help out with any photo credits, I’d appreciate it!), some even from his pre-tattoo days built like a matchstick with a pile of hair that entered the room a full minute before he did…well, they are a sight to see. Their style was pretty tough back in the hungry years before the big payday when they rocked on a steady diet of engineer boots, creepers, skinny jeans, polka dot thrift shop tops with cut-off sleeves, bandanas and a sneer. Soon the look was gobbled up by the mainstream made-for-MTV crowd and regurgitated into a uniform with elements of new wave / new romantics fluffy hairdos, argyles, leopard print, gold lamé, Zodiac boots, and over-sized sportcoats.

Give the Stray Cats their due. Not only were they heavily responsible for a resurgence of interest in American roots Rock, Rockabilly, Swing, and Greaser culture– Brian Setzer was honored with being the first artist since Chet Atkins to be granted a Gretsch artist model guitar built and named for him. A true reflection of how strongly he was identified with Gretsch, and how he helped cement them with a new generation as the true player’s guitar for anyone serious about Rockabilly and the like. After the Stray Cats, guys like the Reverend Horton Heat, Mike Ness (Setzer played on Cheating at Solitaire) and others like them have carved-out their own sound and legacy on a Gretsch– and they owe a nod to Brian Setzer for paving the way.

A young and well-coiffed Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats back in the early 1980s

1982, Paris– A couple of lean, mean rockers Thierry Le Coz & Brian Setzer. Brian and the Stray Cats hit the road for the UK and Europe early on, as the Teddy Boy movement and the strong  love abroad for the Sun Records & rockabilly music legends (Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, and many more) called them there to make their mark. Thierry (yep, he’s French) is a great guitarist and started out in the Rockabilly band Teen Kats back in the early 1980s, and met Brian and the boys while they were there touring Europe.  Le Coz moved to Austin, Texas in ’84, played with Will Sexton in Will and the Kill among others, and is still doing his thing. I love that pic of them, great style.

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POISON IVY OF THE CRAMPS | PSYCHOBILLY GUITAR GODDESS

Now, you don’t seriously expect that I can post on Elvis and not followup with The Cramps, right? There’s something about a gal playing a sexy Gretsch guitar that makes a many a little weak in the knees. ‘Least that’s what I’ve been told…

Poison Ivy “Rorschach” and Lux Interior, R.I.P. (her husband and co-founding member of The Cramps) gave us a genre of music gleefully known and loved known as– Psychobilly.  Starting out as the ultimate garage band back in ’76, with their raw performance intensity and simple, throbbing tunes– they influenced an entire generation of rock/punk/goth bands who followed behind in their giant footsteps, and are still thrilling kids who “discover” their musical legacy to this day.  Lux is the man, and Poison Ivy is no doubt the woman. Just get a load of these epic pics, and try not to bite through your lip…

1992– Poison Ivy of the Cramps, Tamaris Rock Festival  via

1995– Pois0n Ivy of The Cramps at the University of Utah Olpin Union Ballroom. via

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ROCK & ROLL LEGEND EDDIE COCHRAN | 50 YRS GONE, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN

Fifty years ago today, the world lost one of Rock & Roll’s great pioneers of sound, songwriting and guitar playing in a tragic car crash– Eddie Cochran. The list of those that Cochran has influenced reads like a who’s who of Rock royalty; and includes everyone from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Hendrix– to the Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Stray Cats, and many more.

1959, CA ~ The legendary Eddie Cochran ~ Image by © Michael Ochs Archives

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Eddie Cochran

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Gretsch Custom Shop G6120EC Eddie Cochran Tribute Model

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NEIL YOUNG AND THE DAMAGE DONE | The Godfather of Grunge’s Early Years

December 1969, San Diego, California, USA --- Neil Young plays his vintage Gretsch White Falcon during a sound check at Balboa Stadium just before a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. --- Image by © Henry Diltz

December 1969, San Diego-- Neil Young plays his Gretsch White Falcon during a sound check at Balboa Stadium before a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. -- Image by © Henry Diltz

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Over his long and storied career, Neil Young has explored and influenced a wide range of musical styles– but it’s his early days that I love the most.  There’s an ache and an angst in Young’s voice that resonates, and his guitar playing feels bare, matter of fact, and honest.  Neil Young is often referred to as “The Godfather of Grunge” for the impact and influence he had on the grunge scene– Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain in particular.  Cobain even went as far to quote Neil Young in his suicide note– using the line “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away” from Young’s song “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”.

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