I love me some rockabilly. I grew up with boxes of 45s from the ’50s, my mom’s and my uncle’s, with everything from silly novelty records like “The Old Philosopher,” rhythm and blues like Fats Domino and the Jive Bombers, to Hank and bluegrass, and the true kings of rock ‘n roll, Little Richard and Chuck Berry. My uncle Paul also ran a few taverns, and when they dumped the hit singles for the latest batch, he’d bring home a trunkful of everything from KISS, Creedence, to ’80s one hit wonders.
On the other hand, I didn’t hear the Beatles until I was in high school, which is perhaps why I don’t buy into the worship. Great band; they changed history, yes. But it was more as a function of marketing, if you ask me. Same with Elvis. Love the guy, especially his early Sun Records work. But they stood on the shoulders of giants, and we must never forget that. Both of them found early success covering the R&B records that few would play, due to fears of mixing the races. They became their own men sometime afterward, when success allowed it.
So, it was with great relish that I wrote a story for an upcoming anthology entitled “Hoods, Hot Rods & Hellcats,” that my friend Chad Eagleton is putting together. I dug deep for this one, through old family stories and ’50s hot rod history, World War 2 realities and human frailty. It’s a long one, at least it is before Chad edits it, and I look forward to sharing it. I could title it “birth of a hellcat,” but for now, it’s called “Red Hot,” after this gem by Billy Lee Riley: