Tear It Up!: The Rockabilly Documentary, Produced & Directed by Greg Wolske. Lasso Productions .  What the heck is rockabilly?

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ockabilly - like Blues, Folk and Jazz - is pure American music. Short-lived in its truest sense during the mid-1950's, Rockabilly captured a wild abandon that derived its roots from an exciting fusion of Country, Swing, and Rhythm and Blues.  Historically overlooked in America, it has achieved worldwide popularity.

In general, Hillbilly "Cat" music or Rockabilly was mostly created by southern white boys who listened to white country music stations by day and black rhythm and blues stations by night.   Their parents disapproved of the black music.  So many of them would sneak out to the car at night and tune in those forbidden sounds.  Some would stand outside black clubs and listen to the bands.  From these musical influences, a new sound was created.

Some people have a hard time distinguishing rockabilly from rock'n'roll and fifties pop music.  Rockabilly is a stripped down raw sound with a driving slap bass beat.  The electric guitar is integral and upfront in the music.  There is a wild "let it all out" feel with a fast paced beat.  Often band members would hoot and holler during a lead guitar break.  Many musicians have a hard time describing Rockabilly, but nearly all agree that when you hear it, it just makes you "feel good".

No one can say for sure when Rockabilly was born.  But without a doubt, the first to bring Rockabilly to the world were Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black.  Their early recordings for Sun Records were very influential.  The majority of original Rockabilly musicians from the 1950's, cite Elvis as the first time they heard the Rockabilly sound.  Some of the best Rockabillies to follow Elvis included Carl Perkins, Johnny Burnette & the R&R Trio, Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps and Billy Lee Riley.  Their recordings are a must for any Rockabilly music collection.

As the popularity of Rockabilly grew, the sound expanded to other parts of the Country, most notably the West Coast.  Urban boys who knew nothing of the South began to create some great Rockabilly music.  Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran and Glen Glenn are great examples of this phenomenon.

Unfortunately, Rockabilly was short lived.  The new sound from the South was putting established country music stars such as Hank Snow, out of work.  The major record labels were left with their mouths hanging open as hundreds of independent record labels and recording artists began to dominate record sales.  Mainstream American parents were weary of the "black" music being listened to by their teenagers.  Then of course, there were the wild musicians such as Elvis "the pelvis" who was shown from only the waist up on the Ed Sullivan show.  All this led to a quick reestablishment of control over the music by recording and entertainment industry leaders, with the blessing of mainstream America.  By 1960 the raw, energetic music had been replaced by a homogenized, politically correct sound.  Instead of originals such as Gene Vincent, the music industry offered up manufactured teen idols such as Fabian.

Americans chew up and spit out fads faster than anyone else in the world.  Over the decades, the British and Europeans continued to embrace Rockabilly and its originators.  During the 1980's many aging Rockabillies found a renewed interest in their music overseas.  Rockabilly legends such as Eddie Bond, Mac Curtis, Ronnie Dawson and Wanda Jackson, often traveled to England and Europe to perform clubs and weekend concerts.  The fans consider these musicians to be legendary and were always appreciative audiences. 

Recently, a new very strong following for Rockabilly has emerged in America.  Week long concerts featuring both famous, original musicians and young new bands, have attracted fans from all over America and overseas. 

 

 

Email: info@tearitup.com

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