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Psychobilly and Rockabilly

The Same, Only Different

 

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 singing style.  

 

The great rockabilly and psychobilly go together  Rev Horton Heat's psychobilly

 

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 electric bass. 

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. 

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