The Look: Flamboyant yet elegant mix of white and pastel fabrics, ‘pegged’ trousers (wide at top, narrow at bottom), extra wide collar shirts, greased-back hair (often with ‘duck’s ass’ flip at back and quiff at front), black and white or ‘blue suede’ shoes. Later in UK: ‘Dirtbox’ style features extremely degraded denim and lots of sweat.
The Time: early ‘50s+
The Place: Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Influenced: Rockers (UK), Northern Soul (UK), New Romantics, Psychobillies, Disco
Rockabilly fused elements of Afro-American musical forms on one hand with, on the other hand, the rural-based white musical forms of ‘Country’ ‘Western Swing’ and the ‘hic’, never fashionable, sounds of the ‘Hillbillies’ of the Appalachian Mountains and other backwater parts of American which defiantly resisted urban sophistication and gloss. (Black musicians like Chuck Berry and Ray Charles, both of whom, despite their race and cultural background, appreciated white ‘Country’, ‘Western’ and ‘Hillbilly’ sounds, forged the same mix from the opposite direction to that of the white Rockabillies.) The result of this extraordinary fusion was not only music for Rockabillies to dance to, it was Rock & Roll – and, in the ‘60s, Rock. And this new music arrived just in time for the newly identified ‘teenagers’ to Rock Around the Clock to. It changed the world.