The first thing that comes to my mind when the term rockabilly comes up (apart from the awesome cars, of course) is one of my favourite youtubers; the cherry doll face. Though many would say she goes towards pinup most of the time (she does after all work as a pinup model), I consider that to be just the “female branch” of the rockabilly the way it’s portrayed nowadays. It’s really quite hard to find girls really going for the “tough girl”-image, although their tattoos often show from underneath their cherry-covered dresses.
'The Cherry dollface' - by Robert Alvarado
As much as I enjoy and admire those committed to the ‘rockabilly lifestyle’, I could never quite live up to that myself. Although I would love to, I just don’t have that dedication in me. Besides, I’ve tried to manage those hairstyles before, and my hair just won’t cooperate in the way I would like it to. Unfortunately.
I find it quite amusing that most people these days would take it as a compliment to be called rockabilly. Especially considering the fact that when it was first used in 1956, it was a new way of calling you a hillbilly, which apparently wasn’t something you wanted to be. So to be called it ‘back in the days’ would be quite the opposite of complimentary on your sense of style (Even if it wasn’t thrown back and forth a lot until the 70’s, when the term actually blossomed due to the revival of the rockabilly style).
"Typical" modern rockabilly, Photography: Tiago Xavier
But, like with everything else, it all started with music. Elvis played a central role in what would become the rockabilly we know today, especially through his comeback in 1968. Other musicians, such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and even Chuck Berry could also help setting the mood for the working 50’s.
Elvis Presley during performance in the late 60’s
Bill Haley & His Comets
'The stray cats' got famous for their music in the 80's, and was one of the leading rockabilly bands during this period of time.
But(!) I can’t talk about rockabilly without talking about cars. And when I say cars, I mean the 49 mercury Buick. This is probably the thing 50’s purists share with the more cliche ways of the ‘rockabillies’. 50’s purists would typically go for classic paint jobs on their cars, and although many rockabillies would as well, the image of black cars with flames on their sides pop up in our heads for a reason.. I’ll give you a hint, it’s got to do with grease.
Hell’s Chariot from Grease.
My favourite is the classic green one. Not from Grease, but still my dream car. I drove past one in San Fransisco a couple of years ago, and since then I’ve known that if I ever get a car, it would have to be that one. For now I should probably focus on getting that license..
A modern take on rockabilly; picture borrowed from tailsclothing.com
Campain for Schott’s leather jackets, clearly inspired by rockabilly.