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Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:
  • Pop (to varying degrees)

Rockabilly is a musical style which could be described as the missing link between Country Music, Bluegrass and Rock & Roll. It originated in the American South in The '50s. Typical for the genre is the vocal twang (pretty close to yodeling) and a strong emphasis on rhythm, provided by guitar, upright bass, and a stripped down drum kit. Solos are provided on electric guitar. Backup vocals are often shouted.

It was popularized by early rock 'n' roll singers such as Bill Haley & His Comets, whose "Rocket 88" (1951) is widely seen as the first recognizable rockabilly song. The genre quickly got picked up by other early rock 'n' roll pioneers such as Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, but also country singers such as Johnny Cash. As rock and roll eventually got more popular rockabilly ran out of steam by the early 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s acts such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Don McLean, Linda Ronstadt and Brian Setzer (and his bands Stray Cats and The Brian Setzer Orchestra) caused a revival of the genre. Still in the 1970s, psychobilly, a fusion of rockabilly, punk rock and themes inspired by horror films, the subgenre has the bands The Cramps and The Meteors as a pioneers. Since 1997 the genre even has a Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Examples of rockabilly artists:

  • The Big Bopper: Best known for "Chantilly Lace" (1958)
  • Johnny Cash: His earliest recordings, "Hey Porter", "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Cry! Cry! Cry!" are examples.
  • Eddie Cochran
  • Duane Eddy: Best known for his guitar instumentals, such as "Because They're Young" and "Rebel Rouser".
  • The Everly Brothers
  • Charlie Feathers: Fans of the film Kill Bill may recognize his songs "That Certain Female" and "Can't Hardly Stand It", which was one of several rockabilly songs covered by The Cramps.
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • Bill Haley & His Comets: "Rocket 88" (1951) is seen as the first rockabilly hit.
  • Buddy Holly
  • Johnny Horton
  • Wanda Jackson: One of the first women to make a mark in rock 'n' roll.
  • The Johnny Burnette Trio: Well remembered for "Train Kept A-Rollin'" (1956), which was the first rock 'n' roll sound to use guitar distortion.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Imelda May is a 21st century Irish singer who made several albums in a modern-rockabilly style.
  • Ricky Nelson
  • Roy Orbison
  • Carl Perkins: The first rockabilly singer to break through nationally, with his original version of "Blue Suede Shoes" climbing up to #2 in early 1956.
  • Elvis Presley: The Sun Sessions (1976) is a compilation album which collects his earliest work which is closer to the rockabilly sound than his later work would be.
  • Marty Robbins: See especially Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs (1959)
  • Arkie Shibley and the Mountain Dew Boys: Their hit "Hot Rod Race" (1950) is an early example of the genre.
  • Shakin' Stevens
  • Stray Cats: Led a revival of the style in The '80s.
  • Gene Vincent: Scored his biggest hit with "Be-Bop A Lula".
  • Link Wray: Well remembered for "Rumble".
  • Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, a 1970's group who biggest hit was a cover of the rockabilly tune "Hot Rod Lincoln" which originated as an answer song to "Hot Rod race".
  • Ronnie Self: "Bop a Lena" (1956).
  • Robert Gordon: "Red Hot" (1977).