|Shakin' That Rockabilly Fever, Billy Hancock
Bluelight Records, BLR 33772, 2001
Born in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1946, Billy Hancock was a fan of rhythm and blues and hillbilly music by age five. At thirteen, when his professional career began, he breathed rockabilly's roots through all pores, but the music had already been shuffled out the pop industry's back door. The 60s and 70s would find Hancock working an endless stream of bar bands. Along the way, he backed the likes of Gene Vincent, The Clovers, Amos Milburn, Dale Hawkins, Charlie Feathers and Big Joe Turner.
The October 1975 release of the album "American Music" on Aladdin label by Danny & The Fat Boys was an important milestone in Danny Gatton's career, but also in Billy's career. Most people know that it was Danny Gatton's band but have no idea that Billy Hancock was the singer and bass player, he also wrote the song "American Music". Billy and his brother Dale had bought the legendary Aladdin record label from Leon Mesner in 1974. This short lived label had three LP releases and a handful of great sought after 45s. The Fat Boys trio made a television appearance on channel 20's "Barry Richard's Rock and Soul Show" and shared the bill with The Clovers. Danny & The Fat Boys officially disbanded in 1977.
In 1978, Hancock got a letter from Ripsaw Records asking if he wanted to make a rockabilly record. As Billy puts it, "Everybody had called me a rockabilly for years, so I thought, hell, I'll make a rockabilly record. I had heard some of that new rockabilly and knew I could make it realer". When they began, it was reasonable to expect little from this southern rocker. But true to his boast, Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets have produced the most real and classic rockabilly of the late seventies. Just as the wayward hillbillies who wandered through Sun Studios in the 1950s caught a spark, Hancock stripped away a career of twenty-dollar nights to find a fire down below. The sessions were loose and hot, guided by Billy's sure feel for rockabilly's nervous and excitable grammar. He effortlessly transformed blues and country tunes to hillbilly rockers, thus turning rockabilly's primordial trick one more time. He caught the rockabilly fever and there's still no cure.
The Tennessee Rockets nailed some of the best examples of pure authentic rockabilly music to be recorded in the USA at that time. D.C. had a real rockabilly scene in the late 70s; Tex Rubinowitz, Billy Hancock, Danny Gatton, Robert Gordon, Bobby Newscaster, Eddie Angel, Ratso Silman, Johnny Castle, Evan Johns, etc. This, you must remember, was at the time of prog rock and disco. The Tennessee Rockets built up a loyal following and made four solid rockabilly singles for Ripsaw, all of which were included on the "Shakin' That Rockabilly Fever" album on the Solid Smoke label released in September 1981.
And now we're writing 20 years later. Ripsaw leased the original Billy Hancock recordings to the Finnish Bluelight Records label and they released a brand new CD with the same title and front cover as the original Solid Smoke LP. All 14 rare and hot rockin' tracks are now available to a new public, and to the old greasers of course. This CD contains three additional tracks, "You Pass Me by", originally released on Big Beat (BBR 0018) in 1981, "Christmas In Tennessee", which was not originally released, but it appeared on the 1995 Run Wild RW-005 CD "It's A Rockin' Christmas". There is also an alternate take of "I'm Satisfied". As you might know, Billy's "I'm Satisfied" and "Knock-Kneed Nellie" were also covered by rockabilly legend Eddie Bond on his LP "Rocking Daddy From Memphis Tennessee" (Rockhouse LP8206, 1982).
More info about the legendary Ripsaw label and other great rockabilly companions like Tex Rubinowitz, Bob E. Rock, Jimmy The Kid and Martha Hull at: http://www.noclubproductions.com
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