Dear Guitar Hero: Brian Setzer
He revitalized rockabilly with the Stray Cats and revived swing and jump blues with the Brian Setzer Orchestra. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is …
What led you down the rockabilly path? — Steve
The real defining moment for me was when I heard [Gene Vincent’s] “Be-Bop-A-Lula” on the jukebox. Back in 1976 or ’77, we had this club in Manhattan called Max’s Kansas City. There was always punk music blasting, but for some reason one day “Be-Bop-A-Lula” came on the jukebox. It was as if a hand came across the bar and grabbed me, like, “Listen to me! Listen to how cool I am!”
There was just something about the raw, back-to-basics sound that fit perfectly with the urgency of the punk movement I was in back then. To me, rockabilly music paralleled punk’s energy and feeling, but the players were much better. I’m telling you, I still remember Cliff Gallop’s solo coming out of the speaker. I went, “What the heck is that? Who’s playing this?”
I really dig your hair. What is your secret ingredient? Are you a Murray’s Pomade man? — Joe Barrios
[In radio-announcer voice] You’ve heard of Dapper Dan? Well, I’m a Murray’s man! [laughs] As my dad used to say, “You’ve got to train your hair.” And then once you’ve got it trained, you comb it in the position, throw in a little bit of Murray’s … and you’ll be a Murray’s man, too. [laughs]
For the rest of our "Dear Guitar Hero" reader-interview with Brian Setzer - plus a pull-out poster of five of Setzer’s bitchin’ Gretsch guitars - check out the July issue of Guitar World, which is on newsstands now.
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