Stray Cats Bassist Lee Rocker is Gonna Rock This Town (Rock It Inside Out)

The Rockabilly cat swings through the Fairfield Community Arts Center on Feb. 7

Feb 5, 2020 at 11:30 am

click to enlarge Lee Rocker - Photo: Alex Solka
Photo: Alex Solka
Lee Rocker
If Lee Rocker had never done anything beyond slapping that badass upright bass for Stray Cats, his place in the Rock firmament would still have been assured. After all, the Cats, a scrappy New York trio of Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran fans, singlehandedly dragged Rockabilly back onto the world stage by distilling that love of a bygone sound and filtering it through their ’70s Punk sensibilities to create a familiar yet wholly unique new music form.

Stray Cats — bassist Rocker (born Leon Drucker), drummer Slim Jim Phantom (known to his parents as James McDonnell) and guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer (real name, unless you believe Homer, who referred to him as Brian Seltzer during the “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” episode of The Simpsons) — were only initially active from 1979 to 1984 but in that time they ticked off some substantial accomplishments, including 10 million albums sold and a number of Top 10 hits, especially the influential “Rock This Town.”

Rocker and Phantom began a side project in 1983 by hooking up with another hot shit guitarist, former David Bowie six-stringer Earl Slick, to create the metallic Roots Rock tumult of Phantom, Rocker & Slick for two albums; their eponymous debut yielded the MTV hit “Men Without Shame,” which rose into the Top 10 of Billboard's Top Rock Tracks chart. Setzer broke up the Cats in 1984, but after the demise of Phantom, Rocker & Slick in 1986, the band reformed, then went on hiatus again. It’s a pattern they've stuck with for the past three and a half decades, regrouping for one-off appearances, opening slots and limited tours, particularly last year's 40 album and tour marking the group’s 40th anniversary.

Since the mid-’90s, Rocker has charted his own solo course, releasing 14 studio and live albums under his own name, including 1998's No Cats, 2003's Upright and Kicking and last year's blistering The LOW Road. Blending his signature bass-thumping Rockabilly with Roots Rock verve and impassioned Blues, Rocker — who also plays guitar and sings in his solo projects — continues to explore his multi-faceted solo identity while maintaining the groundbreaking sound and standards that propelled the Stray Cats to stratospheric success.

Lee Rocker plays Friday, Feb. 7 at the Fairfield Community Arts Center at 8 p.m. Tickets ($25-$30) are available here. Find more info on Fairfield CAC's current Performing Arts Season here.