Rockabilly Music Earns a Permanent Place In Rock and Roll History

By Buster Fayte, Featured Author, Sad Man’s Tongue

It wasn’t always a given, but rockabilly music has earned a permanent spot in  the rock and roll spotlight. Today’s rockabilly acts not only keep the genre  alive, but they keep it energized and thriving. It could have been a different  story; rockabilly’s heyday was remarkably short considering the profound effect  it had on the development of the new rock and roll scene.

One of the great debates surrounding rockabilly music is the actual birth  date of the genre. Many say it was born with Elvis at Sam Phillips’ Memphis  Recording Services studios one night in 1954. But others make compelling  arguments that other acts were singing rockabilly music for several years prior  to that famous night. Many point to The Maddox Brothers and Rose and the  material they were turning out even as far back as the late 1940s and ask, “if  that ain’t rockabilly, then what do you call it?”

Regardless of where you put your pin on the timeline to mark the first  rockabilly recording, there’s no real doubt that it was Elvis that kicked the  genre into overdrive in 1954. And by 1959, the formative body of rockabilly work  had pretty much all been recorded. Certainly by 1960 rock and roll had evolved  beyond rockabilly and despite the success of a few late hits, rockabilly output  had dwindled to almost nothing. So really, the formative period lasted for a  short five years or so.

And that might have been the end of the genre. It very nearly was the end in  the United States. But there was one small detail: though the hits stopped  coming, the influence that rockabilly and the early pioneers had on the next  wave of rock and rollers was astronomically out of proportion to the limited  commercial success of the rockabilly genre itself even during the glory  years.

The new breed of 60s rockers, particularly the new British invasion bands led  by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were not shy about admitting the influence  that rockabilly had on them. If the Americans where hungry for the radical  departure that rockabilly was from the blandness of pop music at the time, the  British were absolutely famished. Rockabilly resonated for them long after the  hits stopped coming. There are many theories as to why that’s the case, but the  theories don’t really matter. What matters is that the British never let  rockabilly die.

And the British enthusiasm for rockabilly spread throughout the United  Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Rockabilly became a permanent part of the music  scene in Europe. Europe cared for the neglected American child until Robert  Gordon, the Stray Cats, and other rockabilly revivalists brought it home to  American shores again in the late 70s and early 80s.

In the 80s the genre solidified and diversified. Rockabilly and its  psychobilly offshoot just grew stronger and stronger throughout the 80s and 90s  until by the turn of the century there was no doubt that rockabilly had achieved  permanence throughout the world.

Now, over 50 years after rockabilly could have nearly been declared dead,  it’s alive and well. In fact, it’s never been healthier. The genre thrives with  fantastic rockabilly acts throughout the world and a whole new generation of  rockabilly fans that will ensure that rockabilly will forever hold its permanent  place in rock and roll history.

Buster Fayte is an author and rockabilly musician. He Blogs at “Buster Fayte’s Rockabilly Romp” where he writes about the passion he shares with millions of musicians and fans for rockabilly and oldies music. Buster has written several books including the “Complete Home Music Recording Start Kit”. He writes original songs, sings, and plays both guitar and bass.

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About Sad Man's Tongue: Rockabilly Bar & Bistro - Prague

We are a Bar and Bistro where old school meets the new school, dedicated to preserving the roots of rock and roll and it's modern adaptations as well as preserving the cultural identity of our neighborhood through our food, the the principles of the slow food movement. A little bit of rockabilly and retro combine with the kustom kulture of today, in an atmosphere devoid of Pretension.
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2 Responses to Rockabilly Music Earns a Permanent Place In Rock and Roll History

  1. Reblogged this on Atomic Yeti.

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