Stray Cats Founder Says Rockabilly Was The Original Punk Music | WGLT

Stray Cats Founder Says Rockabilly Was The Original Punk Music

Jun 10, 2016

One of the founding members of the early 1980's Rockabilly revival group "The Stray Cats" will headline the GLT Summer Concert June 11.  Double-bassist Lee Rocker has had a successful career of his own following the bands breakup.  Despite being the son of acclaimed clarinetists Stanley and Naomi Drucker, and brother to country music artist Rosanne Drucker, Rocker said from an early age, his ears were tuned to rockabilly and blues music.

"I'm not exactly sure what is. Maybe it was a reaction to some of the music I was hearing growing up I wasn't such a fan of.  Some of the bands with synthesizers and the such. I always liked the Allman Brothers, the Beatles and the Stones.  I was always drawn to more organic music, and that led me to blues and then rockabilly."

When The Stray Cats blew up big in America in the early 1980's, Rocker said he was somewhat surprised. But he said he knew from playing smaller clubs at the time that their music was having an impact.

"We didn't know much at that young age, but we knew something clicked and worked, got them excited and on their feet.  We knew it was working in bars.  We had no idea how big it would go though."

Rocker said the music The Stray Cats revived, and he still plays as a solo artist, is as much punk as it is rockabilly.

"I think Rockabilly was the original punk music.  It's an attitude, it's the passion and sweat you put into it. It was D.I.Y. ... young people ... kids.  You know, we started in the garage like bands do, just putting yourself out there and learning as you go."

Once he began to regularly breathe Rockabilly, Rocker dug into the history of the music, where found names including Carl Perkins, Elvis, and Gene Vincent fascinating.  And though his work with the Stray Cats, he said he ended up befriending Perkins. 

"I worked with him a lot over the years.  We did some TV shows and played on some records with him.  We actually did the soundtrack to Porky's Revenge!"