Who, like me, literally grew up w/ The Stray Cats
Man, I remember the videos & the sound. I remember hearing them on the radio. I grew up with them around, but not with them. I always liked the Cats but, I guess the music I grew up around didn't really support Rockabilly. So, I didn't "get it" until much later. I don't regret not understanding, but I'm sure glad that he did what he did. Amazing work!
I was in grammar school I think when they came out...around the time of the Go-Go's I think. I remember MTV playing them all day and the girls in the neighborhood practicing the Stray Cat Strut walk the girls do in the video.
I wasn't really that much into music in 1982..but MTV was starting to grow and you couldn't get away from it...not in my house...the house of rock n roll built by my father who had the biggest record collection I have ever seen. I think by 84 I was into The Clash...who had come out with "Combat Rock" in 1982...so it all started coming together around that time.
Someone told me about The Blasters...and said..."they do rockabilly right...original...and don't rip off riffs and licks from others like the Stray Cats" . I didn't know anything about that claim but I started listening to the Blasters and for some reason it resonated more with me. Dave and Phil Alvin...well all the guys in the band looked like bad asses with their hair slicked back ...Dave with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth...Phil with that shit-eating grin on his face. Back then I couldn't really get into bands who wore girl's make-up, over-done pomps, and shoes with thick soles (creepers?)...it was just too crazy over the top for me...the fashion part of it...I didn't care for the Flock of Seagulls Duran Duran Kajagoogoo fashion thing going around at the time. I preferred Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon...those guys were the real rockers to me.
I bought "Live Nude Guitars" when it came out...I think I had heard "Rebelene" and loved that riff...and thought it was a great album...I really didn't start listening again to them until the 90's....with "Gene and Eddie"...I thought it was great that he put that song out.
I've had to learn a lot of Stray Cats songs and Setzer riffs over the last few years just from doing sideman gigs for people who do Stray Cats covers...so I think my appreciation for the band, the musicianship of Setzer, and all that other business grew from that.
But I'm still a "Blasters" guy.
I was growing up at the time they hit, but being only 1-2 years old at the time, it's safe to assume they weren't on my musical radar. Rockabilly in general was woven through some of the music that I was exposed to growing up, but my parents weren't rockabilly fans by any stretch. Mine was a country household with bits of John Fogerty/CCR and Traveling Wilbury's thrown in for good measure, or at least, that's the stuff that resonated with me. When rockabilly did expose itself in their music, I noticed it and loved it, but with my limited exposure, could only really identify it as "sounding like 50's music".
As I got older, I really only knew of the Stray Cats mainly through TV ads for 80's music compilations. It wasn't until years later, in my late 20's, that I actually dug into the Stray Cats music as a way of trying to figure out licks and solos for another artist, who listed them as an early influence. From that point on, I was sold. The more I dug in, the more I liked. They were my jumping off point into the world of rockabilly, and from there I just kept digging. I love the Stray Cats music, and I wish I could have found it earlier, and I really wish I had been able to see them live
WIREDTURTLE here SINCE2002
some one early on in this thread said they appreciated the Stray cats but they listened rather to Elvis the "real deal". The irony of that is that Elvis was original and pioneering in the blend of black gospel and blues with hillbilly music but all he was doing was taking the music he was passionate about and mimicking black style all mixed into his own roots. Of course Elvis was "god" in my grandmothers and my mothers heart and both my folks cried at his passing. I remember the dark day clearly... YET
The Stray Cats were never a copy, they were fully entrenched with the New Wave of euro pop/ post punk and pulled their passions into it and the fact that setzer is classically trained since childhood in Jazz and Lee Rocker was the child of classic orchestra musicians... just further knods to the Stray Cats creating something very new and very much NOT a repeat of the past and totally different from anything that was out there at the time, at least in the states. It had teeth and was fist waving to the old guard but with respect to tradition and full of honor for those that had gone on before.
T is absolutely right here. And it's a meaningful difference. They were the leading band in a REVIVAL of rockabilly, not just a retro novelty act. Can you imagine The Stray Cats on American Bandstand in 1959? Similarly, The Jam were a Mod revival band, not simply a retro novelty act. They didn't just rip off early Kinks and Who and Faces. The Brit-pop bands of the next decade called Weller the Modfather, even though he didn't originate the aesthetic. His originality was in taking it further, just as Setzer and The Stray Cats did. Both Weller and Setzer got their generation to dig into the music that inspired them. (I knew Eddie Cochran before The Stray Cats broke, but I listened to him more deeply and widely afterwards.) But neither were merely derivative. Revivalists don't just act out a dead form, like tribute bands, they breathe new life into a form and set it in motion once again. Just like Dylan picked up the baton from Woody Guthrie.
It was great to see these guys break it big and blow up MTV for a good part of '82(?).
But those were the good old days when euro pop, US pop, punk and rock shared the airwaves. Now, everything is so format oriented....
"Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut" were the first songs I heard of these cats, and since I was a Nugent/Bowie/Kiss/Aerosmith freak, I hated the Cats. It took a long time to appreciate the music, even though I always loved Gretsches. I've since come around and learned to appreciate the trio, including the alternate trio of Phantom-Rocker-Slick. As to the initial question, no, I did not grow up on the Cats, I avoided them at all costs, then I grew up!
I was in middle school in the late 80's. I simply loved going through all of my Dad's records at the time. I had also just started playing guitar.
One day I found his "Built For Speed" LP, and I was an instant fan. Dad told me that the Stray Cats were cool, and that we should watch MTV until a video of theirs came on. He loved their videos and was sure that I would too.
The first Stray Cats cassette that I bought was Rant 'N Rave. I played it until it fell apart. Watching Brian Setzer in the film La Bamba, and buying the Choo Choo Hot Fish album just helped seal the deal. I was the only Stray Cats fan in my school (as far as I knew). I'm really fond of that time in my life.
A few years ago, a dream came true when I got the chance to see the Stray Cats live with ZZ Top and The Pretenders.
I was a little late to the party, but I still grew with The Stray Cats. Man, do I love that sound. Like many here at the GDP, that sound is what lured me to Gretsch guitars.