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© Steve Jennings/CORBIS
You’re a rockabilly-crazed trio from Long Island in the late ’70s. Moustaches and Foreigner rule. What to do? Move to jolly ol’ England, of course!
Setzer and his other two Stray Cats (bassist Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom) went down a smash in the UK, riding a rockabilly revival that soon became a revolution. Two years later, aided by MTV, they brought their success back to the States, and with stripped-down, no-keyboards-allowed hits like Rock This Town, Runaway Boys and Stray Cat Strut, they became stars.
Key to Setzer’s sound - an exuberant blend of boogie-woogie and blues with an almost jazz sensibility - is a 1959 Gretsch 6120 that the Eddie Cochran-obsessed guitarist bought from the classifieds for the way-beyond-retro price of $100.
Whether it’s with The Stray Cats (who broke up in 1984 but have reunited several times), on side projects like Robert Plant’s The Honeydrippers or with his current big band, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, you won’t find him playing anything other than Gretsch. (And forget that three-position ’mud switch’ - don’t need it.)
Want to know how to play like him? Who better than the man himself to talk you through rockabilly picking using barre chords, using a Bigsby vibrato, rockabilly picking using open chords and how to change between picking and fingerstyle.