There wasn’t enough fibre in the original punk explosion of 1976-77 so it is hardly surprising that it would soon to split into a number of streams such as new wave and hardcore punk (oi!). In the wake of the ruins of punk emerged other musical styles : a mod revival, the ‘two tone’ ska revival and the rise of ‘new romantic’ synthesiser groups. Some erstwhile punks turned to rockabilly and some younger rockabillies turned punkish creating that creature of an ‘illegitimate’ marriage : psychobilly. It should have been called ‘punkabilly’ or even ‘horrorbilly’ or ‘schlockabilly’ but for some reason ‘psychobilly’ caught on. EXPLAIN ORIGIN.
As the punk-ted ‘war’ of 1977 subsided into insignificance, a certain young punk nicknamed ‘Shane O’Hooligan’ joined a band called the Nipple Erectors who in May 1978 were to release the first ‘punkabilly’ song ‘king of the bop’ (the fashion of adding –billy to any rock’n’roll derivative had not yet arisen and we find them described in 1978 by one reviewer as “rockapunky rebels”). It’s a good enough song with good rhythm and a very rocking guitar solo but the vocals are 100% punk style. A short review of the single by Alan Lewis at the time said:
The A side is perhaps the first record which will genuinely appeal to Teds and punks alike (Eddie And Sheena was too contrived, and doesn’t count). I like the sound of this lot: no claims on their behalf – simplistic is too good a word for what they do – but they sound like they’re having fun.
The B-side ‘nervous wreck’ was pure punk as were the following 3 singles which came out under their new name The Nips (although the guitar solo on ‘vengeance’, a B-side from October 1979 was pure rockabilly). The Nipple Erectors not only co-opted rock’n’roll elements into that initial single but also wore drapes.
The Clash album ‘London Calling’, released in December 1979, exemplified the breadth of classic punk’s legacy. Combining punk rock with reggae, ska, R&B, and rockabilly, it went on to be acclaimed as one of the best rock records eve
MTV started in 1981.
Psychobilly really started in 1980 with the formation of the Meteors.
Nervous Records, a label that specialised originally in rockabilly, produced the overwhelming majority of psychobilly records during the early 1980s. Any band that seemed appealing (surely ‘appalling’?) would be signed as fast as possible,
Klub Foot (1982-88) which was hosted at the Clarendon Hotel in ‘Ammersmiff.
Since 1999, subsequent Klub Foot Reunion concerts at the Relentless Garage in Highbury.
the Klub Foot promoter released a series of live recordings, titled Stomping At The Klubfoot on ABC records. Six volumes were released on vinyl and CD
Meteors, Restless, Guana Batz
and the Cramps, who moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1980, were innovators in the psychobilly fusion style
At gigs, psychobillies engage in what is called ‘wrecking’ on a dance-floor during a performance. DESCRIBE. Who the hell wants to do that? Not teds at any rate. Psychedelic music tends to be monotonous ‘thrashbilly’ which one suspects does not need too much dexterity to play (and the genre is so dominated by that kind of music that I – for one – have not been able to stomach exploring it for hidden gems). The hair which on one level is acceptable ranges from good to ludicrous : typical however is a pointy ice-cream cornet quiff with shaved back and sides which are all the more authentic if stubbly. And finally, there is a fixation with horror and shocking which is infantile, its halloween all year round as far as a psychobilly is concerned – strewth! The rockabillies, neo-rockabillies and authentics are not teds, but the psychobillies are definitely not teds. Psychobilly is not only where rockabilly meets punk but where it meets goths and emos. How the hell did they get from A to Z? Well, each to their own. Teds and psychobillies might listen to a lot of the same music but a ted can’t be happy at a psychobilly do.