“I can play a riff you've probably never heard. If there's a mistake in there, I can work on it. Sometimes the mistakes are the riffs that stick”: Brian Setzer on how he’s kept his writing skills sharp – and the records that define his career

Brian Setzer poses with a Gretsch electric guitar
(Image credit: Tony Nelson/Future)

Since the earliest days of the Stray Cats, and later with his namesake, Orchestra, Brian Setzer has blazed a trail of his own creation, accompanied by imagery steeped in fast cars, flashy guitars and flaming licks.

It took a certain level of fearlessness to play rockabilly in the early ’80s, let alone have worldwide success, and it took an even greater level of courage to pivot to swing and jive in the ’90s, when grunge and Britpop, propped up by MTV, reigned supreme.

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Andrew Daly

Andrew Daly is an iced-coffee-addicted, oddball Telecaster-playing, alfredo pasta-loving journalist from Long Island, NY, who, in addition to being a contributing writer for Guitar World, scribes for Rock Candy, Bass Player, Total Guitar, and Classic Rock History. Andrew has interviewed favorites like Ace Frehley, Johnny Marr, Vito Bratta, Bruce Kulick, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Rich Robinson, and Paul Stanley, while his all-time favorite (rhythm player), Keith Richards, continues to elude him.