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
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.