Neo-Rockabilly and its place in New York today
The expression 'Rockabilly' is combining combination of the words 'rock' and 'hilbilly'. As the name signifies, rockabilly has combined elements of 'rock and roll' as well as hillbilly form of music, a term used for country music which was popular in 1940s and 1950s. Neo-rockabilly originated in the Southern region of the United States. It made its appearance in the music scene in early 1950s and is among the very first forms of rock and roll music.
Early uses of the term
The term 'rockabilly' was being used in early 1950s, but its first written mention was recorded in the year 1956. The Billboard reviews of Ruckus Tyler's song 'Rock Town Rock', labelled it as a rockabilly genre of music. A 1956 song, 'Rock a Billy Gal' used the term rockabilly in its record title. At the same time, Burnettes also came up with 'Rock Billy boogie'.
Early Rockabilly musicians
Rockabilly was inspired by many different forms of music like the western swing, rhythm, blues, and boogie woogie etc. It was a relatively simpler form of music and was considered rather easier. It was at the peak of its popularity during the 1950s. Famous Rockabilly musicians of the times include Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Rock and Roll Trio, and Carl Perkins. But by 1960s, its popularity started fading. At this time, these musicians turned to Country music.
Year 1968 saw the comeback of Elvis Presley and with him came the era of revival of Rockabilly. The next two decades of 70s and 80s saw rockabilly coming back, and regaining popularity. Many singers and bands appeared during this time. 'Creedence Clearwater Revival' a band from San Francisco; Don McLean; Sha Na Na; Linda Ronstadt are just a few to mention.
Rockabilly was different from other forms of music due to its special sound effects. These effects were produced by using slightly different recording techniques. Echo was a very important feature of rockabilly recordings. Different forms of echo such as slapback echo, flutter echo, tape delay echo and reverb etc. were in use. The sound effect was achieved by recording the songs in a specially built recording studio, which had a high ceiling to maximize echo.
Rockabilly in present day New York
Rockabilly is still alive in the United States and New York. It exists along with other old genres of music such as jazz, rock, punk, and blues etc. It has strived to make place for itself in Today's New York. Some facts about this genre of music include –
Rockabilly musicians sing and perform at many special festivals.
They tour around the country and record for individual recording companies.
They can be heard often on radio, weather internet radio, or satellite radio.
The Rockabilly fans keep their favourite music alive through websites and videos, in today's age of electronic communication.
A non-Profit Rockabilly Hall of Fame keeps the neo-rockabilly memories alive. It also encourages die - hard fans and musicians of the form, who wish to maintain the popularity of this old school of music so that it remains available for the future generations to hear as well.
Reed Terry 2009
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