Psychobilly and rockabilly are
similar musical styles, and the roots of both go back to the 1950�s.
The likes of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Ricky Nelson have even
dabbled in the field of rockabilly (although all of these moved on to
other genres of music). But
psychobilly and rockabilly music do have some very distinct differences,
with psychobilly having recently arisen from the rockabilly influence.
Created originally through the
sounds of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and Carl Perkins (whose recording of
Blue Suede Shoes is somewhat of a rockabilly anthem), rockabilly blends
rhythm and blues with country swing and adds a peppy rock beat. It is a stripped down version of rock and roll, pure and
simple, with outrageous yelping and gulping lyricists creating a unique
The original rockabilly movement
lasted only a short while in the 1950�s � from about �54 to �56
� but today it�s been resurrected.
At the same time, an entirely new genre of music has been born from
combining rockabilly with modern punk music, or what might be described as
British punk rock. Similarly
to rockabilly, psychobilly is played with an upright bass instead of an
The term psychobilly was first used
by Wayne Kemp, who wrote �One Piece at a Time� (it became a
top 10 hit for Johnny Cash in 1976).
In the song, he refers to a �psychobilly Cadillac�.
The Cramps, a few years later, used this term to describe their
music, and a genre was born.
Psychobilly and rockabilly are different in the
topics chosen for the songs themselves.
Rockabilly songs tend to be about women and cars, while psychobilly
is more about the shock factor, making lyrical references to horror films,
violence, sexuality, and any other �taboo� subject that comes to mind.
The first psychobilly band that can be verified is The Meteors,
having formed in London in 1980.