Rockabilly is a style of music made famous during the 1950s by American performers. At its heart, rockabilly is simply a fusion of rock and roll, Blues and Hillbilly. The music was propelled by catchy beats, an electric guitar and an acoustic bass which was played using the slap-back technique.

Rockabilly is generally considered to have begun in the early 1950s, when musicians like Bill Haley began mixing jump blues and electric country. In 1954, however, a singer named Elvis Presley truly began the popularization of the genre with a series of recordings for Sun Records. "Rock Around the Clock" (1955, Bill Haley) was the breakthrough success for the style, and it launched the careers of several rockabilly entertainers. By 1958, most of these performers had moved on to different sounds and rockabilly had largely disappeared from popular music.

In the 1980s, the Stray Cats led a revival of interest in rockabilly, though it was brief. Other bands like the Cramps and Reverend Horton Heat merged the music with punk, however, forming a distinct genre referred to as psychobilly.

Further Reading

  • Roadkill on the Three-Chord Highway, Colin Escott, Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-93783-3

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