Rockabilly - The Music


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Rockabilly, Clothing, and the Rockabilly Hairstyle

Rockabilly is a sub-culture which is not only defined by rockabilly music and rockabilly clothing, but also by Hot rods and tattoos.  Rockabilly is a distinct form of music - the earliest form of rock and roll. Rockabilly is a fusion of blues, bluegrass, hillbilly boogie, and country music.  Rockabilly's origins lie in the American South. Its rhythm is accented on the offbeat, nervously up-tempo, and propelled by a distinctively slapping bass....The sound is further boosted by the use of echo, a homemade technique refined with sewer pipes and bathroom acoustics. Recording artists such as Bill Haley were playing music that fused rhythm and blues, country and western swing in the early 1950s.  Several different versions, including rockabilly, can be found on songs such as "Smokey Mountain Boogie," and by the early 1950s, you can see simultaneous country and rhythm-and-blues recordings of the same song. The Delmore Brothers and Hank Williams were performing in the late 1940s music that could be called rock and roll. Rockabilly, though, is a stripped-down version of its various sources, and thus a specific style in the music that before had existed in many forms.

Elvis 1954 Memphis sessions for Sam Phillips produced the first rockabilly recordings. "That's All Right," was first performed by Arthur Crud which was a reworking of a blues song done with overtones of country music. "Blue Moon of Kentucky," by Bill Monroe, is a bluegrass standard with some blues.

Rockabilly can be found in Buddy Holly, who took elements of various musical styles (blues, country, gospel, south of the border, and the like...) and melding them into the "Tex-Mex" sound. Holly's efforts are legendary, and the rockabilly sound was a strong element in much of his music.

Carl Perkins played rockabilly and helped to define the genre. "Blue Suede Shoes", written by Carl, is considered a classic of Rockabilly. The early recordings of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison are also considered essential rockabilly, although Cash, Vincent, Lewis and Orbison each went on to perform in other styles. 

Rockabilly is a musical style and a set of attitudes and gestures, Holly's death in a plane crash in 1959 marked the first end of the classic rockabilly era, but in the 1980s, The Stray Cats led a revival of interest in rockabilly and bands like The Cramps, Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids, and Tiger Army merged the music with punk, forming a distinct sub-genre sometimes referred to as psychobilly.  Rockabilly is the purest of all rock 'n' roll genres. It is preserved in perfect isolation within an indistinct time period....".



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