What is Rockabilly

Rockabilly is music that came out of the south of the US, mixed with elements of rock, blues, country, hillbilly booggie and bluegrass.

It emerged in the early '50’s…waned in the '60’s …and was revived in the late '70’s and early '80’s. Its popularity has managed to endure to the present.

Some of the great rockabilly artists included Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson and Roy Orbison.

While Rockabilly may not have lasted all that long as a mainstream rock subcategory, its influence is still felt today. Several bands such as the Stray Cats have continued to perform in the Rockabilly tradition, while other artists have borrowed from the genre to create their own flavour.

The Rockabilly Revival

Over the past 50 years there's been a legion of bands dedicated to replicating the style and sound of classic '50s rock 'n'roll. While there have always been bands playing Rockabilly, the revival really hit its stride in the post-punk era, when a number of new bands picked up the sounds. Not only did they play the music, but they celebrated and embraced the pop culture that surrounds Rockabilly. The first revival culminated in the success of the Stray Cats in the early '80s. Following their success, a number of Rockabilly bands appeared in the underground scene during the late '80s. The Rockabilly Revival continued to thrive into the '90s with the most notable band to emerge being the Reverend Horton Heat.

Please feel free to tell us what you love about Rockabilly - the old stuff, the new stuff, the rockabilly clothes, the hair, the cars, the rockabilly lifestyle - where you shop - what you wear - who you listen to - if you know of an event coming up - a band we should catch - anything at all.

The '50s are seen as a time of innocence - and of innocence corrupted. It was a period of intense conservatism and the rise of suburbia on the one hand and rock and roll and a new rebellious spirit among the young, on the other.

For Rockabillies it’s an era that’s worth preserving - even if it was way before they were even born.

This site is dedicated to full skirts, big quiffs, red lipstick, peroxide hair, vintage cars, rock’n'roll and tattoos.

The Rockabilly Revival

Rockabilly might have been born from the jazz, blues and blue grass of the US south, but it’s lived on through five decades in one form or another.

While the Stray Cats enjoyed large-scale fame in the 1980s, the scene has had its own life in the 2000s. Over the past decade there’s been a convergence of the rockabilly style with the swing music scene. Brat Setzer of the Stray Cats played a big part in joining the two subcultures. He formed the Brian Setzer Orchestra as both a rockabilly and swing musician. The Reverend Horton Heat, Rattled Roosters and Royal Crown Revue are also popular in both scenes.

Today there are still lively rockabilly scenes in several major US cities – especially on the west coast. There are a number of big festivals including Viva Las Vegas and Hootenanny along with the Heavy Rebel Weekend Festival on the east coast.

The subculture also thrives in Europe where there is a big focus not just in contemporary musicians reviving the rockabilly traditions, but in artists from the ‘50s.

So why has rockabilly survived in one form or another for all these years?

Meg Appelton in her article “The Rockabilly in the New Millennium” argues that the rockabilly culture is an antithesis to current trends as it embraces its roots in "old school" societal fringes.

She says the rockabilly phenomenon has survived down the generations thanks to a growing dissatisfaction with mainstream culture, music and stylistic icons.

“Rockabilly frequently becomes a way of life or lifestyle to those active, who see the larger scene to be like a family,” she explains.

“The rockabilly lifestyle is not restricted to only the music but also the home furnishings, cars, and even small things like the cigarettes smoked.”

The hits are all here, along with some revealing album cuts, rarities and portions of a 1982 live broadcast that display the Cats' considerable live charms. This album will have you up and dancing - full speed from start to finish. To buy it click here

Stray Cats

The Stray Cats formed on Long Island in 1979. Brian Setzer teamed up with two school friends, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom. Their Rockabilly brand of music didn’t attract much attention in New York so headed to London the next year. It wasn’t long before the Stray Cats had three UK Top Ten singles and two bestselling albums.

After they headed back to the States and were signed by EMI. From there they had chart topping success across the US and Europe and sold out shows everywhere.

At the height of their success though, they split. While they have reconvened a number of times, they were never as big again as in the early 80’s. More than 20 years later and the Stray Cats are about to undertake a farewell tour and will be in Australia in February 2009.

Stray Cats Greatest Hits

The hits are all here, along with some revealing album cuts, rarities and portions of a 1982 live broadcast that display the Cats' considerable live charms. This album will have you up and dancing - full speed from start to finish. To buy it click here

Rockabilly Fasion

Rockabilly is not just about the music....it's also a lifestyle. And while the youth of 50s America was quick to embrace the sounds of rockabilly, they were also just as quick to adopot the "look". It's a culture that's managed to strech through five decades. It's had an influence on fashion trends from the Teds in the UK to the Mods, Punks and right through to today’s psychobillies

Back in the 50s the rock 'n' rollers adopted a look to match the crazy music they were making. It was all about sharp cuts, swept back hair, piled high. For the teeangers that took on the look it was pretty much clean cut with a dash of edge. For the boys it was pants with wide cuffs, simple shirts and jackets while for girls it was full skirt dresses and lots of crinolines, flats and ponytails.

The more rebellious teenagers took the look to its limit ...crazy patterns and colours in menswear - two-tone shirts and jackets as well as leather jackets. Girls wanting to show off their bad side opted for the scandalous pencil skirt and tight sweater, stiletto heels and red lipstick.

And while it all died down in the 60s the subculture’s influence lived on. It has provided a template for most every pop style that's followed. You could say today’s Psychobilly is just a younger relation the Rockabilly of the 50’s…taking it’s place in a family that refuses to go away.

Rockabilly Hair

There a couple of basic hairstyles for Rockabilly men. One of the most iconic would have to have been the ducktail haircut. It’s a symbol of the 50s that has captured the imagination and endured so well. The ducktail required combing the hair back to the middle of the head, then with the end of the comb, make a centre part. This required a fair bit of grease – hence the term “greasers”. This style quickly identified a guy as a rebel, a non-conformist.

Rockabillies also wore their hair short on the sides, longer at the back and with enough length at the front to create the upswept “pompadour". Another popular cut was the flat top

Women’s styles follow two general looks. The first is the moderate-length, layered cut. This style is always curly or wavy and is a classic look from the 40s and 50s. The other look is the most common among the Rockabilly devotees - the one made popular by Bettie Page, the 1940s and 50s pin-up model. The look is longer, generally created with blunt cut fringe across the forehead. The hair is generally styled to have soft waves while the fringe is straight and smooth.

Here is a great step by step tutorial on how to achieve retro hair in under five minutes.

This is a really nice tutorial for a longer, softer vintage look

Rockabilly Makeup

Rockabilly is the best of the 1950s - the clothes, music and hair while ignoring the worst (McCarthyism, bigotry) to create a world that rocks.

A passion for the 1950s is one thing but rockabillies turn their passion into a lifestyle. It’s all in the detail – having the right dress, stockings, handbag shoes, hairdo and of course make up.

Rockabilly Dresses

Bring a touch of retro pin-up into your life!

This is definitely a classy way to dress.  The women who wore these dresses oozed confidence and beauty and the best bit is they look great no matter what shape or size you are.  These are dresses that hug in all the right places. Curvy girls, petite girls, tall girls, short girls, all look great in vintage rockabilly.

Whether you are looking for actual dresses or just great looking outfits in general, there are likely rockabilly dresses that will fit the bill. They range from the very glamorous pinup dresses made in bengaline fabric to perfectly conform to the shape of your body, to the business professional Ashley dresses.

Retro Parasols

Retro Parasols

We love them because they:

  • Cut down on sun exposure
  • Help keep your tattoos vibrant and skin safe
  • Make a colourful accessory for strutting your stuff
  • Offer a great decorating element for the bedroom, studio, office, anywhere!

Hand Made Retro "Vintage Tan Tattoo" Parasol Shade Umbrella - $19.99

Hand Made Retro Chinese "Red Tattoo" Parasol Shade Umbrella $19.99

Hand Made Retro "Skulldini" Parasol Shade Umbrella $19.99

Hand Made Retro "Mans Ruin" Parasol Shade Umbrella $19.99

Retro Accessories

Fender Custom Shop "Dia de los Muertos" Fedora Black Cotton Low Profile Trilby with Day of the Dead Skull

Hey Viv ! 50's Vintage Style Apron with Free Retro Recipe Card

Hey Viv! Vintage Accessories: Full Length Red Velvet Prom Gloves

Vintage Clothes (Adelaide)

Hero Designs & Vintage Deluxe
2 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide (08) 8223 1626

Considered Adelaide's vintage queen, Shirley Luxton, along with her two daughters, is behind what would have to be one of the most respected vintage stores.

The Gymnasium
Level 1, 240 Rundle Street, Adelaide (08) 82327883

Claire Incorruptible (aka Claire Inc)
Claire iNcorruptible supports emerging and cult designers and all of their vintage is hand-picked & in line with current trends. They provide hard to find gems from around the globe and promote unique, individualistic dressing….most of all though their collections are fun and are SURE to set you apart from the crowd!

Irving Baby
83 Hindley Street, Adelaide (08) 8410 0519
33 Twin Street, Adelaide (08) 8232 5454

Visit their stores to buy vintage fashion, new up-and-coming designer fashion and a vast range of fun stuff. They stock labels such as: Princess Tina, Little White Lie, Lucky 13, Secret Squirrel, Route 66, House of Porcelain, French Kitty, Paul Frank, Mooks, Emily the Strange and lots, lots more.

Red Ruby
14 Peel Street, Adelaide (08) 8231 0022

Central Market Dress Ups
59 Gouger Street, Adelaide (08) 8231 6500

Clubhoue Lane Boutique
2 Elizabeth Street, Croydon (08) 8340 4435

Hype and Seek
3 Elizabeth Street, Croydon (08) 8346 0033

Purple Haze Basement
38 Twin Street, Adelaide (08) 8232 4997

Nadia's house of Serendipity
4 Partridge Street, Glenelg (08) 8294 3121

Mint Vintage
13 Frome Street, Adelaide (08) 8223 3371

Tangent Traders
1a Margaret Street, Norwood (08) 8332 9161

Exclusive Vintage Clothing
35 Braund Road, Prospect (08) 8344 4455

Get Funked
362 Port Road, Hindmarsh (08) 8340 2244

95 Semaphore Road, Semaphore (08) 8242 7717

Empire Vintage
305b Payneham Road, Royston Park 0405 444 327

CP Bazaar
306 Goodwood Road, Clarence Park (08) 8271 7155

And just a reminder to do something positive and choose green
Visit All The Green Things and Green Living Earth Friendly

Local Bands (Adelaide)

The Hoodoo Voodoo Dolls - Psychobilly / Rockabilly / Punk.
Check out these guys. This trio play Rockabilly and Psychobilly. You won't be disappointed!! Chek out their Myspace and listen to their tracks.

Uncle Chester's Triumphant Return

The Saucermen - mainly originals but their influences include Rev Horton Heat, The Cramps, The Clash and fast tunes from the '50s

Prawn Head - Bluebilly

Lucky 7 - cool jazz licks with a raw rockabilly style rhythm, which becomes the backbone of their trademark sound. They channel the sounds of the swing era and combine it with a punk attitude in similar fashion to Los Angeles-based outfit Royal Crown Revue.

The Satellites - Rockabilly
The Satellites first got together in ’94 and were soon performing right across Australia. They became regulars at the Wintersun Festival in Queensland where they took out the award for Best Performing Band. They also won the award for Best Australian Rockabilly Band four years running from 1998.

Since releasing their debut CD Bop Tonight back in ’98 they gained a huge interest both interstate and overseas with sales in the UK, Germany, USA, Finland, Sweden, France, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Norway.

Their musical influences include country, rhythm and blues, jazz, swing, western swing, rock ‘n’ roll and of course rockabilly. Their live act is not to be missed. They break out with an exuberant spontaneity with lots of stage antics that tend to make their shows an unforgettable experience.

Events (Adelaide)


Local musician Frank Lang has put together a mini festival for fans of retro and rockabilly to be held in Adelaide in October.

It will kick off on the afternoon of Sunday October 7 at the Governor Hindmarsh. The line up includes Hoy-Hoy! along with Lucky Seven, Glen Skuthorpe, Double Wammy, Blue Katz and the Satellites.

In deciding to put on the event Frank said he wanted to bring together several like-minded bands to play on the one bill.

Talking to Rip It Up, Frank explained that he loves doing gigs with other bands and thought he'd ring around to see if others were interested in being involved in a Roots, Retro & Rockabilly extravaganza.

“I was overwhelmed with the response and the enthusiasm,” Frank said.

“I was really pleased that all the bands wanted to do it with no real guarantee that it would work. That’s been great."

Frank says he’s sure the event will be a huge success as it boasts much of the cream of Adelaide’s seasoned roots musicians.

Guitarist Mauri Berg, formerly of Fraternity, The Others and Mickey Finn, is now a member of Hoy-Hoy!

Power soul combo Double Wammy recently reformed and have since been playing gigs at Semaphore Workers’ club and the Wheatsheaf.

Double Wammy and Glenn Skuthorpe will kick off the day by doing two alternating sets of about 30 minutes each set. Skuthorpe is a former Sydney-based indigenous singer-songwriter who has just released his third album, Nothing Like Rain.

Local rockabilly combo The Satellites and the Blue Katz will play before Lucky Seven brings the six-hour event to a close.

Frank says that if this festival is successful there will be another one, adding that he’s already thinking up some fresh ideas.

Roots, Retro & Rockabilly will take place at the Governor Hindmarsh on Sun Oct 7 from 3-9pm and will feature Glenn Skuthorpe, Double Wammy, Hoy-Hoy!, Blue Katz, The Satellites and Lucky Seven.

The Lion's Share

Lion's Share by Russ Lippitt

The Lion’s Share is a look at the punk rocker and “greaser" in the 21st century. It’s been described as an "enjoyable freaky ride" and a unique take on the underground culture, "a retro romp".

Author Russ Lippitt has crafted a provocative tale centred on the anarchical world of rebellious young “greaser” named Billy. The story is set in small-town USA and revolves around Billy and his gang, The Click. Billy’s saga takes the reader deep into the street rod underworld life – not the life of hot cars but of the psyche that grips the young anti-society ‘punks’ that rule this particular world. Lippitt paints a gritty, but hopeful tale of misguided youth.

In its review, Punk or Nothing, compare the novel to music, describing it as the equivalent of a punk album: fast paced and full of filthy anecdotes. They point out that Lippitt's style relies on the punk aesthetic of basic, strong, no bullshit structure - simple and straight to the point. Lippett, they say, is not afraid to maintain a deliberately basic world for his complex characters to interact in with underfed descriptions giving breathing space for the imagination.

The publishing company admits it's not your typical “coming of age” story but explains that for Gen-Xers, and anyone who remembers the ‘50s rebels it’s a compelling story of a raw and dangerous journey into the world of the ‘greaser’ and ‘punk’.

Lippitt describes his work as a true portrait and tribute to the Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Punk and Greaser scene.

It’s fast paced and entertaining and intelligent without being intellectual.

“An entertaining and a good read!” - Lola, Distorted Magazine
“An emotional story of a rebel teenager filled with friendship, treason, speed and rock ‘n’ roll, a definitely worth reading novel!” - Mircea. More Punk Then You Zine
“This is one of the best greaser/punk/outsiders book that you will read” - Josh, Bad Kat Magazine.
“This book absolutely floored me, a great read!” - Jenka, The Subculture Collective
“Lion share offers a unique take on the underground culture, a retro romp!” - Robert G. Rose, Aimtv Group
“Lion’s Share is a captivating story in which every rock ‘n’ roller can relate to!” - Laurent, Veglam webzine
“A tour-de-force of greaser mayhem!” - Voltcase alternative culture magazine
A damn fine read for anyone who has ever felt the need to rebel against everything or anything!” - I, Devolution Magazine
“What a treasure!” - Richard, Punk or Nothing Webzine
“I was engrossed in this book from start to finish” - Steve, Street Voice Newsletter