Rockats’ neo-rockabilly pioneers release “Nervous Breakdown” cover

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originally published: 11/28/2021

(LOS ANGELES, CA) – Shortly thereafter the groundbreaking British rockabilly group The Rockats had moved from Essex to New York in 1978, they were playing a show when Up approached a charismatic young guitarist who praised the group for their performance. Rockats bassist Smutty Smiff befriended the lovely boy and even took a train to Massapequa to give him his first rockabilly haircut while teaching him how to grease him well. This young American was a Brian Setzer who would get on the rockabilly train to become a superstar with The Stray Cats.

None of this would have been possible without The Rockats, who set the standard for rockabilly revivalism in the ’80s, scoring a hit on MTV in 1984 with “Make That Move” and landing slots of support on tours by everyone from David Bowie to Thin Lizzy to Tina Turner, while also bringing Teddy Boy culture to both sides of the pond.

As Smiff recalls some 43 years later, “We influenced a lot of musicians and turned them into rockabilly, hanging out, selling clothes and cutting the hair of the Stray Cats. We have certainly influenced their style and their music a lot. Maybe if I had never been to Massapequa Long Island things would have been different!

Now the Rockats are back in the limelight with a new album due out next year that will feature performances by Smiff alongside longtime Rockats frontman Dibbs Preston, guitarists Danny B. Harvey and Barry. Ryan, and Blondie drummer Clem Burke!

The band released the album’s first single, a catchy cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Nervous Breakdown,” as well as a video featuring vintage performance footage of the Cats cutting him off on stage in their prime. The song can be streamed or purchased from various sources found here.

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