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Stray Cats

The key group of the early-'80s rockabilly revival, the Stray Cats scored several big hits on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to a striking visual style tailor-made for the early days of MTV, as well as genuine musical chops that evoked the best players of rockabilly's original heyday. The Stray Cats were formed by guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer in the Long Island town of Massapequa, NY, in 1979. At first, Setzer played rockabilly covers in a band called the Tom Cats with his brother, drummer Gary, and bassist Bob Beecher; however, Setzer soon abandoned that group to join up with newly rechristened school friends Lee Rocker (born Leon Drucker) and Slim Jim Phantom (born James McDonnell). However, their retro '50s look and sound didn't go over well around Long Island, and in the summer of 1980, the group headed to England, where a rockabilly revival movement was just beginning to emerge.

After one of their gigs in London, the Stray Cats met producer Dave Edmunds, well known as a roots rock enthusiast for his work with Rockpile, and as a solo artist. Edmunds offered to work with the group, and they entered the studio to record their self-titled debut album, released in England in 1981 on Arista. They were popular right out of the box, scoring three straight hits that year with "Runaway Boys," "Rock This Town," and "Stray Cat Strut." The follow-up, Gonna Ball, wasn't as well received and, stung by the negative reviews, the Stray Cats decided to return to the States and make a go of it. They signed with EMI America and in 1982 released their U.S. debut, Built for Speed, which compiled the highlights from their two British LPs. Helped by extensive airplay on MTV at the height of the anything-goes new wave era, "Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut" both hit the American Top Ten, over a year after their British chart peaks. As a result, Built for Speed was a left-field smash, and the Stray Cats were seen as avatars of retro style. Their second American album, Rant n' Rave with the Stray Cats, appeared in 1983 and produced another Top Ten hit in "(She's) Sexy + 17," as well as a minor Top 40 entry in the doo wop-styled ballad "I Won't Stand in Your Way."

Personality conflicts began to emerge in the ways the individual members handled their newfound success: Phantom married actress (and former Rod Stewart paramour) Britt Ekland, while Setzer made guest appearances with stars like Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks and became the concert guitarist for Robert Plant's Honeydrippers side project. In late 1984, Setzer broke up the band amid much bad blood. Rocker and Phantom immediately teamed up with guitarist Earl Slick and recorded an album as Phantom, Rocker & Slick, while Setzer waited a couple of years before releasing his roots rock solo debut, The Knife Feels Like Justice. By 1986, fences had apparently been mended enough for the Stray Cats to reconvene in Los Angeles and record the covers-heavy Rock Therapy, which didn't sell that well. The trio returned to their respective post-Stray Cats projects, which both released albums that performed disappointingly. In 1989, they reunited once again for the album Blast Off, which was accompanied by a tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan. No longer with EMI, the Cats entered the studio with Nile Rodgers for the lackluster Let's Go Faster, issued by Liberation in 1990. 1992's Dave Edmunds-produced Choo Choo Hot Fish also attracted little attention, and after another covers album, Original Cool, the group called it quits again. They have since reunited periodically for live performances. Setzer, of course, went on to spearhead the '90s swing revival with his Brian Setzer Orchestra, which performed classic big-band swing and jump blues tunes, as well as Setzer originals. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

I got cat style!
kdkjd34
♡ h a p p y n a t i o n a l a d o p t a c a t m o n t h ♡
Love these Katz so much that I tattooed the Stray Cat logo on my back. Been a fan since early 80's
the first time i heard them i loved them my favorite song is stray cat strut i also love nine lives and rock this town
amye45
may your mullet live long and prosper
Love them!!!!
My first school dance in middle school I danced with a cute boy to Stray Cat Strut and I was an instant fan.
I can't believe how great they actually were. I saw them in 80's and would love to see them reunite now!
This is badass music I love it....
Reminds me of Los Angeles in the 80's The Rockabillys Vs the Stoners ...Good Times
dorisnettere c k e l
Pandora is thr greatest
dorisnettere c k e l
My husband and I are 71 and 68 and we really only want to dance this kind of swinging, hope we can do it for many years. If only more bands would play it!!!!!
saw brian setzer on nov 23 he was awesome
I saw them open for Three Dog Night, I was blown away and hooked. The live show was excellent.
I love them! My dad listens to them in his antique car
cat style.... yes
tomhavair
This freaked me out This isn't fake. Apparently, if you copy and paste this on ten comments in the next ten minutes, you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either get kissed or asked out, if you break this chain you will see a little dead girl in your room tonight.
DesertRoseAZ T
this is my moms account too!
DesertRoseAZ T
my favorite song from stray cats is 18 MILES TO MEMPHIS!!!!! ! ! thanks to my mom I like this stuff now. I stated to listen to this at age 5 and now I am 13. Time sure does fly.were does the time go?
i jacked my grammas account
im 14 and im doin the greaser pompoadore rock a billy all the way
michaelmelli n g e r
It's funny how much I hated this kind of music when I was growing up. My dad would listen this stuff.... now it's about all I listen to. I HEART THE 80s!
I have them on a new wave compilation that misled Slacker into thinking they were 80s alternative. WTF?
this is music baby!!!!!!!! ! !
ladydi51
Waiting for the BSO to come to WESTERN Mass!!!!!!!
zorkoff
OK YOUR ON A ROLL, BUT CAN YOU KEEP IT GOING? WE'LL SEE!
seen the cats at hitsville passaiv nj
im only 15 but i know good music when i hear it and this is it!!!!!!!!!! !
Slim Jim is in a band with Lemmy playing 50's covers.
there cool no comment.
Not heard of them before but they're very cool. I'm an old 50's-60's rockabilly fan and these guys are true to the faith!
I ran into Brian outside a neighborhood restaurant in NE Minneapolis, MN, a few weeks ago and chatted about what he's up to. He just released an instrumental record and he's touring Europe and Japan this summer. He also talked about wanting to cut way back on touring and might even teach guitar next year! I told him to sign me up! "Remind me that you're the nordeast guy. I'll remember you." He's a really nice guy. Very genuine. He gave me a guitar pick out of his pocket!
kandsmith3
Where is Brian Seltzer now,and anything new from Stray Cats? LOVE them!
johnnywowk
Stray Cats = Cool Cats. Still keeping Rock & Roll # one.
Hot rods Hot chicks and COLD beer!
i love them always they rock
stray cats are the shittttt
Drank a lot of beer in the 80's listening to this band. Still love em
rookie21
try hudson and the hoodoo cats.
rookie21
Did they change their name? I have a CD with all of their music but it is called Hudson Hoodoo and the Voodoo Cats.
i looove them
jeusewelling t o n
You need to try SCOTS(Southe r n Culture on the Skids)
rogerdalehuf f
ROFL....I've been a fan since I was 13 and now I'm 45 !
Been a fan since I was 12. Im now 35.
great boogie band!
I've put them on my classic rock station. They're awesome.
Love the cats, and their sound. I'm also a big fan of the Gretsch 6120 guitar, and Setzer's style. Daddy-o! COOL.
Scoot
they're so underappreci a t e d ! but they're so good!

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