(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Shortly after the groundbreaking British rockabilly band The Rockats had relocated from Essex to New York in 1978, they were playing a show when up approached a charismatic young guitarist who lavished the group with praise for their performance. Rockats’ stand-up bassist Smutty Smiff struck up a friendship with the charming lad and even took a train out to Massapequa to give him his first rockabilly haircut while teaching him how to grease it up properly. That young American was one Brian Setzer who would ride the rockabilly train into superstardom with The Stray Cats.
None of that would have been possible without The Rockats, who set the standard for rockabilly revivalism in the ‘80s, scoring an MTV hit in 1984 with “Make That Move” and landing support slots on tours by everyone from David Bowie to Thin Lizzy to Tina Turner, all the while spreading the Teddy Boy culture on both sides of the pond.
As Smiff recollects some 43 years later, “We influenced many musicians and turned them on to rockabilly, hanging out, selling clothes and cutting the Stray Cats’ hair. We certainly influenced in a big way their style and music. Maybe if I had never gone to Massapequa Long Island, things would have been different!”
Now, the Rockats are returning to center stage with a new album set to be released next year and featuring performances by Smiff alongside longtime Rockats vocalist Dibbs Preston, guitarists Danny B. Harvey and Barry Ryan, and Blondie drummer Clem Burke!
The band has released the album’s first single, a rollicking cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Nervous Breakdown” along with a video featuring vintage performance footage of the Cats cutting it up on stage in their heyday. The song can be streamed or purchased from various sources found here.