- ROCKABILLY REVIVAL
 
Contains
Teddy Boys
Levi Dexter
Robert Gordon
Link Wray
Dave Edmunds
Shakin' Stevens
Stray Cats
The Blasters
Phil Friendly
In the early 1970s, some young listeners began perceiving the chart dominating light rock and disco to be  excessively commercialized, and there was a sense among some listeners that the art rock and progressive  rock bands had become pretentious and bloated. These listeners wanted to return to the simple, loud, fast,  emotionally direct music of early rock and roll. Some musicians stripped their sound down to three chords,  loud guitars, and shouted lyrics, creating early punk rock. Other musicians turned back to the original rock  and roll music of the 1950s for inspiration, and in the late 1970s, an underground rockabilly revival began to  emerge. By the early 1980s, a few bands such as the Stray Cats had mainstream chart success.

In England, in the early 1970s, there was a Teddy boy and rocker scene. Teddy Boys listened to bands such  as ''Crazy Cavan'', and rockers listened to 1950's rock and roll. In the early 1970s, Levi Dexter was a Teddy  Boy in London, England. He was on the Teddy Boy circuit for years and learning to sing while jamming with  Teddy boy bands at clubs like the Black Raven. Levi Dexter was soon discovered in England by David  Bowie's former manager Lee Childers while singing a song with Shakin' Stevens. Within months Levi Dexter  & The Rockats were formed. They played on live TV shows such as The Merv Griffin Show & Wolfman  Jack's. Levi Dexter has been called "The James Brown Of Rockabilly". Levi Dexter brought energy to  rockabilly and the early Los Angeles punk scene no one had ever seen before. Best describe as desperate,  sweaty and urgent "Neo" rockabilly! After appearing on the TV shows in 1977 they appeared on the Louisiana Hayride and toured America. They recorded ''Note From The South'', ''Room To Rock'' and many  other great songs played on KROQ-FM radio in Los Angeles. Levi went on to record more records and still  recording to this day.
Rock and roll singer Robert Gordon, who was formerly the vocalist for New York punk band the Tuff Darts, went solo and began performing old rockabilly songs in 1977. Unlike Sha Na Na or the Elvis impersonators, Gordon was not presenting the music as a joke, but trying to recapture the wild energy and excitement of the 1950s performers. He teamed with guitarist Link Wray and recorded an album that year, spawning a minor hit single with a cover of Billy Lee Riley’s ''Red Hot''. Gordon also covered the 1958 Gene Summers recording of "Nervous" on his "Bad Boy" album issued in 1979 on RCA Records. He also toured with guitarist Danny Gatton; one of their gigs was released as The Humbler, a searing re-creation of rockabilly hits and obscurities.

Four more albums followed by 1981 (first on independent Private Stock, then on major label RCA), with another minor pop hit and two low-level country chart hits. Gordon toured around the country and his dedication and energy inspired many listeners and musicians to begin to explore rockabilly music.

The Diversions were a Washington D.C. band in the early 1980s influenced by early rock and roll and rockabilly and had regional success as did Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys who were also from Washington, D.C. The scene in Washington had many rockabilly bands during the early 1980s. Danny Gatton had much success playing rockabilly and rock and roll. Johnny Seaton from D.C. was an Elvis impersonator and later a rockabilly. Link Wray had spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. and Robert Gordon had come from D.C. before moving to New York City. By the late 1980s the rockabilly scene in Washington had faded into obscurity.

Dave Edmunds joined up with songwriter Nick Lowe to form a band called Rockpile in 1975. They had a string of minor rockabilly style hits like ''I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock 'N' Roll)''. The group became a popular touring act in the United Kingdom and the United States, leading to respectable album sales. Edmunds also nurtured and produced many younger artists who shared his love of rockabilly, most notably the Stray Cats.

Shakin' Stevens was a Welsh singer who gained fame in the United Kingdom portraying Elvis in a stage play. In 1980, he took a cover of The Blasters' ''Marie Marie'' into the United Kingdom Top 20. His hopped-up versions of songs like ''This Ole House'' and ''Green Door'' were giant sellers across Europe. Shakin Stevens was the number two best selling singles artist of the 1980s in Europe, outstripping Michael Jackson, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen. Despite his popularity in Europe, he never became popular in the Unites States. In 2005, his greatest hits album topped the charts in England.

The Cramps rose out of the punk scene at the New York club CBGB, combining primitive and wild rockabilly sounds with lyrics inspired by old drive-in horror movies in songs like ''Human Fly'' and ''I Was A Teenage Werewolf''. Lead singer Lux Interior's energetic and unpredictable live shows attracted a fervent cult audience. Their ''psycho-billy'' music influenced The Meteors and Reverend Horton Heat.

The Stray Cats were the most commercially successful of the new rockabilly artists. The band formed on Long Island in 1979 when Brian Setzer teamed up with two school chums calling themselves Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom. The trio fully adopted the Gene Vincent look, complete with flashy pompadour haircuts, leather jackets, and tattoos aplenty. Attracting little attention in New York, they flew to London in 1980, where they had heard that there was an active rockabilly scene. Early shows were attended by the Rolling Stones and Dave Edmunds, who quickly ushered the boys into a recording studio.   

In short order, the Stray Cats had three United Kingdom Top Ten singles to their credit and two best selling albums. They returned to the USA, performing on the TV show ''Fridays'' with a message flashing across the screen that they had no record deal in the States. Soon EMI picked them up, their first videos appeared on MTV, and they stormed up the charts stateside. Their third LP, ''Rant 'N' Rave'' with the Stray Cats, topped charts across the USA and Europe as they sold out shows everywhere during 1983. However, personal conflicts led the band to break up at the height of their popularity. Brian Setzer went on to solo success working in both rockabilly and swing styles, while Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom continued to record in bands both together and singly. The group has reconvened several times to make new records or tours and continue to attract large audiences live, although record sales have never again approached their early 1980s su ccess.

The Blasters were centered around brothers Phil (who sang and played harmonica and guitar) and Dave Alvin (who played lead guitar and wrote songs). The brothers and their musical friends had grown up in a country town called Downey, outside Los Angeles, and had spent their teens playing with such legendary rhythm and blues musicians as Big Joe Turner, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed's former bandleader Marcus Johnson, and Lee Allen, the sax player on the hits of Fats Domino and Little Richard. Having learned American roots music from the masters, the band began playing around Los Angeles in the late 1970s, attracting a following for their combination of classic styles, punk energy, and Dave Alvin’s powerful songs.

Several albums on the Warner Brothers-distributed label Slash and appearances in movies failed to land a chart hit, although sales were respectable and the band captured a strong cult following among fans and critics, even inspiring fan John Cougar Mellencamp to write and produce a single for the band. In the late 1980s, Dave Alvin left the band to begin a successful solo career and Phil went back to UCLA to get his doctorate in Mathematics. Today Phil tours with a new Blasters lineup and the original members occasionally gather for performances.

Jason & The Scorchers combined heavy metal, Chuck Berry, and Hank Williams into a punk-powered blender, creating a truly modern style of rockabilly. Although many would slap them with another label, such as alt-country or cow-punk, Jason and the Scorchers did what Elvis and the others had done in the 1950s: they combined the rocking-est current urban sounds with the most backwoods country to create a new sound that had more edge than either of its sources. Although they were critics' darlings and drew a rabid fan base from coast to coast, the Scorchers never managed to have the big hit record their label demanded. Today their works are nearly all out of print, although they periodically reappear for new tours.

Many other bands were associated with the rockabilly bandwagon in the early 1980s, including the Rockats, Danny Dean and the Homewreckers, The Shakin' Pyramids, The Polecats, Zantees, The Kingbees, Leroi Brothers, The Nervous Fellas, Lone Justice, and Chris Isaak.

Closely related was the ''Roots Rock'' movement which continued through the 1980s, led by artists like James Intveld, who later toured as lead guitar for The Blasters, the Beat Farmers, Del-Lords, Long Ryders, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Los Lobos, The Fleshtones, Del Fuegos, and Barrence Whitfield and the Savages. These bands, like the Blasters, were inspired by a full range of historic American styles: blues, country, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, and New Orleans jazz. They held a strong appeal for listeners who were tired of the commercially-oriented MTV-style technopop and glam metal bands that dominated radio play during this time period, but none of these musicians became major stars.

Also related, but much more successful, were the artists who rose to fame in the wake of Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen first achieved pop chart success with ''Born To Run'' in 1975 and had always been strongly influenced by earlier styles, notably rockabilly, sixties girl groups and garage bands, and soul music. (In fact, Springsteen originally wrote his song "Fire" for Robert Gordon, although the Pointer Sisters version sold more copies than Gordon's.) Although he was a hugely popular performer throughout the 1970s, his 1984 LP ''Born In The USA'' brought him overwhelming success. Not only did the supporting tour set attendance records, but Springsteen’s songs became ubiquitous on radio and MTV. The album spawned a slew of hit singles and several other veteran performers with similar roots-oriented sounds and socially-conscious lyrics enjoyed renewed popularity during the mid 1980s: Bob Seger, John Cougar Mellencamp, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s former leader John Fogerty, who scored a chart-topping triumph with his solo album Centerfield in 1985.

In 1983, country rock singer Neil Young recorded a rockabilly album titled "Everybody's Rockin'". The album was not a commercial success and Young was involved in a widely publicized legal fight with Geffen Records who sued him for making a record that didn't sound "like a Neil Young record''. Young made no further albums in the rockabilly style. Finally, during the 1980s, a number of country music stars scored hits recording in a rockabilly style. Marty Stuart’s ''Hillbilly Rock'' and Hank Williams, Jr.'s ''All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight'' were the most noteworthy examples of this trend, but they and other artists like Steve Earle and the Kentucky Headhunters charted many records with this approach. Although these styles of music were overshadowed after 1990 by the rise of grunge and rap, they left behind a sizable cult audience that continued to support rockabilly and roots-influenced performers through the 1990s and into the present.

Rockabilly has joined the ranks of established musical subcultures in the United States. As with other established music genres such as jazz, blues, bluegrass, and punk rock, a small core of rockabilly musicians are able to earn a steady but limited income, primarily by touring and playing at festivals specialist venues and recording for independent record labels. Like the other subcultures, the rockabilly "scene" supports musicians and their performances using fanzines, websites, and chat pages.

Although no other rockabilly performers have risen to the level of mass popularity enjoyed by the Stray Cats in the 1980s, the scene has grown in the 2000s. There has been a significant overlap with, and interaction between, the rockabilly scene and swing revival. Brian Setzer (of the Stray Cats and The Brian Setzer Orchestra) helped to join these two subcultures, in that he was both a rockabilly band leader and a swing band leader. Other artists, such as Tom Catmul and The Clerics, Trick Pony, Danny Dean and  the Homewreckers, (a country music trio influenced by both rockabilly and honky-tonk styles), The Reverend Horton Heat, Rattled Roosters, and Royal Crown Revue were also popular among both camps. Additionally, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, a multi-genre rock band who found their biggest success in the swing revival scene, had recorded a number of rockabilly and country tunes on their studio albums.

There are active rockabilly scenes in many major United States cities, particularly on the west coast; as well as major festivals such as Viva Las Vegas and Hootenanny and the Heavy Rebel Weekend festival on the east coast. Rockabilly fans have made common cause with hot rod vintage car enthusiasts, and many festivals feature both music and vintage cars with a 1950s flavor. With the growth of satellite and internet radio, there are regular broadcast outlets for rockabilly music. The not-for-profit Rockabilly Hall of Fame was created March 21,1997 to remember the early rockabilly music and to promote those who want to continue rockabilly music popularity and accessibility into the future.

Phil Friendly
"Honey Don't"
(Written by Carl Perkins)   

Recorded at Art Feins TV Show
Hollywood, California, December 2008

 

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Phil Friendly – Vocals & Guitar
Big Manny Gonzales - Guitar
Russell Scott - Upright bass
John Palmer - Drums

One of the greats today is Phil Friendly, born Philip Izvarin on May 30, 1977, who is an international American rockabilly, singer-guitarist and songwriter who managed to build a huge following for himself consisting of rockabilly, country, and blues fans in various countries on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Phil has been fortunate enough to learn from the very best in the music business, recording country rock albums with the Grammy Award-winning guitar greats Pete Anderson and Albert Lee and sharing stage with the legendary James Burton and original Elvis Presley’s TCB Band (among many others) has certainly helped this young performer grow musically and develop his own style.  

For years this Hollywood, California-based artist and his band have been touring all over Europe and the United States. Being a prolific songwriter, Friendly also enjoyed various film and TV placements; one of the recent film projects with Phil's music is ''Mighty Fine'', a film drama starring Andie MacDowell and Chazz Palminteri, which features Friendlys original composition ''She Wanna Do It''.

Phil had a chance to have met, work in the studio or share the bill with such music icons as the late superstar Johnny Cash, the legendary songwriter-producer Jack Clement and the Rockabilly great Glen Glenn to name a few. Also, 'Phil Friendly has plenty of experience playing the lead guitar for various music legends both in the studio and on stage. Over the years this young man has lived and played numerous live shows in different European countries (including Russia, Holland and France) and the United States. Phil and his band have also frequently performed live on various television and radio shows in Europe and North America.

Phil’s debut album ''Friendly Boogie'' was released on a well-known European record label Rockhouse Records back in 1995. It received many positive reviews in American and European music magazines. Other releases followed, including an album with an American 1950's rock and roll star Charlie Gracie and numerous compilation records in Europe and the United States. Besides very decent record sales at record stores around the world Phil has sold thousands of his albums during the personal appearances.

Phil Friendly
IT'S LATE
(Written by Dorsey Burnette)
 

Recorded March 21, 2006 at Studio Radio Capelle
Librije 183, Capelle aan den IJssel, The Netherlands
Producer - John Klompenhouwer
Recording Engineer - Henk van Dorsten

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Phil Friendly – Vocals & Lead Guitar
Tim van der Schoor – Acoustic Guitar & Backing Vocals
Eelco Bootsman – Upright Bass & Backing Vocals
John van Houtum – Drums 

One of the more recent Phil Friendly releases is a critically acclaimed CD with Pete Anderson, Dwight Yoakam's Grammy-winning guitarist and producer. Pete played the lead on all of Yoakam’s big hits, together with whom he sold over 25 million records (and counting). Anderson produced many other music legends’ records, including Roy Orbison and K.D. Lang's number 1 smash pop hit ''Crying''. The brand new album Phil recorded with Pete is titled ''My Shadow'', it was released by a successful European record label Sonic Rendezvous and is getting quite a lot of airplay on various European radio networks.

Finally, after numerous CD and DVD releases, Phil Friendly presented his latest product, West Coast  Sessions. This time Phil Friendly Trio teamed up with the 3-time Grammy-winning guitarist Albert Lee;  together they offer you their colourful blend of country, roots rock and ballads. There are some surprises on  the CD, such as the live track recorded with the rockabilly legend Glen Glenn, and a beautiful ballad ''Blue  Russian Nights'' recorded with the guitar great Al Casey and the author of the song, Jody Reynolds (famous  for his Billboard top ten pop hit ''Endless Sleep'').

As already mentioned earlier, Phil Friendly has also been successful in placing many of his songs in Film  and Television. For example, three songs Phil recorded with Albert Lee for the West Coast Sessions CD,  recently ended up in a new HBO/Cinemax TV-series ''Femme Fatales''. One of the bonus tracks of this  album, "Every Single Day", can be heard in the new American film "Saving Grace B. Jones", starring the  Oscar-winning actress Tatum O’Neal. And one more track with Lee ended up in the second season of the  Showtime hit TV-series ''House Of Lies''.  Phil Friendly’s main professional goal is to become a truly versatile performer, an ambition which he tries to  realize by combining energetic country, rockabilly, and jazzy tunes with romantic love ballads, a formula that  seems to be working well with various audiences attending Phil Friendly's shows on both sides of the  Atlantic Ocean today. Phil Friendly is inducted in 2016 and a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

In Europe, rockabilly remains a vibrant and active subculture, with strong interest not only in current revivalist musicians, but also in performances and recordings by surviving artists from the 1950s. Along with the revival of 1950s-style rockabilly music, several rockabilly disc jockeys have arisen around the world. A significant reason for the continuing phenomenon of new generations discovering and embracing rockabilly is their dissatisfaction with mainstream culture, music, and stylistic icons. Rockabilly often becomes a way of life or lifestyle to those involved, who consider the larger group to be a brotherhood. The rockabilly lifestyle is not confined to just the music but also the home furnishings, cars, and even small things like the cigarettes smoked. The rockabilly culture is an antithesis to current trends as it embraces its roots in "old school" societal fringes (50's movies "The Wild One", James Dean's "Rebel Without A Cause", etc.) concentrated in countries like United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and also in the rest of Europe.

Rockabilly Hall of Fame, was established on March 21, 1997 to present early rock and roll history and  information relative to the artists and personalities involved in this pioneering American music genre. It  Headquartered in a former recording studio in Burns, Tennessee, about 30 miles west of Nashville. In 2000,  the "International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame Museum" was established in Jackson, Tennessee.

 

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