PHOTOGRAPHY OF KARLHEINZ WEINBERGER | THE 1950S ROCKER REBEL YOUTH OF ZURICH

KARLHEINZ WEINBERGER REBEL YOUTH ROCKABILLY BELT

Karlheinz Weinberger’s photography is often described as, “What happens to white Switzerland when black music is played by a white man, and then radioed across the Atlantic to Europe.” While there are clearly strong homoerotic overtones present and some may judge and decide to look no further… I’m drawn to the strong fashion stance and attitude of rebellion in these kids that is driven by the American music and movie scene of the time (Elvis, James Dean, Gene Vincent, etc.) that they masterfully embraced and evolved into there own subculture, Halbstark or “Half-Strong.” Almost 50 years later, it still inspires.

KARLHEINZ WEINBERGER REBEL YOUTH DENIM DUDES GANG

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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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DOES ELVIS PRESLEY + WANDA JACKSON x HASIL ADKINS = THE CRAMPS? MAYBE.

Not to beat this whole Cramps thang to death…During an interesting conversation (mostly one-sided, and highly enjoyable via the internets with a new found friend), the following rock equation was confirmed.  You take the schmaltz, swagger, sex, and glitter of Elvis + the thundering gal on guitar and belting vocals of Wanda Jackson + the frantic, hollerin’ and hillbilly hunchin’ of Hasil Adkins + stir it up, add some hardcore NY snips and whips, pour it generously into a raging ’70s garage band, bake at 1,000 degrees = you might just have yourself The Cramps.

Wanda Jackson briefly dated Elvis, who encouraged her to go Rockabilly with her sound and show.

Check that pickguard made of old 45’s on Hasil Adkin’s guitar on the right…. Holy hot tracks, Batman!


The Cramps famously covered Hasil Adkins’ “She Said” which led to a new found interest in his music.

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BEFORE ELVIS THERE WAS NOTHING.

Saying that Elvis is an icon doesn’t quite cut it. There’s really never been anyone else who’s come along since that could fill his mammoth shoes in terms of talent, looks, style, presence and star power– and likely never will be. Don’t even think the words “Michael Jackson,” no way. Not. Even. Close. Jackson took a lot of style cues from Elvis, from his trim black pants, white socks, and black loafers– and obviously his slick dance moves were a tribute to the King’s infamous gyrations first unleashed back in ’56 on “The Milton Berle Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Those infamous performances (for which he was paid handsomely for, and drew ratings that were off the charts) instantly made him public enemy #1 with parents (who feared the effect that his racy “colored” music would have on their kids) as well as self-appointed decency censors and morality police across the nation.

Looking back on these epic Images of “The King of Rock & Roll”– it’s easy to see what all the fuss was about. Electrifying music, intense energy & sexuality– complete with bad boy sneer & stellar style. Elvis created a bold & sexy Rock Star image unrivaled by anyone– back when the fashion landscape was sterile and buttoned-up. And he did it all through sheer originality, determination and attitude.  The signature slick-backed hair was died so black– it actually had a blue tint.  The clothes went from fierce, flashy Rockabilly Badass to uber-Vegas Lizard King– yet through it all he was and still is, the one and only “King of Rock & Roll”– warts and all.

photo by the multi-talented Kate McQueen

“I happened to come along in the music business when there was no trend. “


The hair, the eyes, the sneer, the pelvis… Elvis

Memphis, 1956– Elvis Presley outside Jim’s Barber Shop on South Main Street. Looks like he’s gettin’ a ticket and funnin’ with the cop as only Elvis could.

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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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