Once upon a time there were three guys in the middle of the midwest of the United States. Wisconsin to be exact. Nowheresville to be precise. Well, these three kids loved an obscure form of music called by the strange name of rockabilly. They set out in about 1982 to do what no one in their town had done before–at least not for 25 years or so. They set out to form a band that played strictly straight-up rockabilly.
Now, these three kids thought they knew pretty much everything. Anyway, the bass player did. But turns out they didn’t know it all. Still, they knew enough to dress the part, cut their hair properly, and learn very true renditions of some of the greatest rockabilly tunes ever written. They also had a bit of a knack for writing their own original rockabilly tunes and certainly no one they knew around their parts was doing that!
Well these three cats soon made a little name for themselves around town thanks to a guy named Rockin’ John McDonald who had (and still does!) a weekly radio show called I Like It Like That on a small community-sponsored station by the funny name of WORT-FM. Before long they had a pretty good following and decided their fans deserved an album full of original rockabilly music. So they set up in a garage and recorded one. They called it Ridin’ In A Rocket.
The record didn’t exactly set the charts on fire, but the band sold out its stock eventually and that’s not bad. But then they thought, “Hey; those Europeans seem to like rockabilly, right? Let’s sell this thing over there!” So they started poking around to see what interest they could generate.
Eventually the band found their way to a man in England called Roy Williams who headed up (and still does!) an outfit called Nervous Records. Roy loved rockabilly and Nervous Records was all about spreading rockabilly far and wide. The boys asked Mr. Williams if he could please sign them up and sell some of their records. “Well,” and here I’m paraphrasing Mr. Williams, “your sound isn’t exactly as authentic as you might think–what with that electric bass, digital delay, and old-but-not-quite-old-enough-sounding recording–and the rockabilly fans ’round here want the real deal, mates. But I like you blokes and I think we’ll have a go of it.” And that he did.
So, sometime around the mid 1980s, Nervous Records released the debut album of a band called Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8. It was remastered and repackaged and ready to roll out. Ridin’ in a Rocket didn’t set any sales records, but it sold a few. The band enjoyed the occasional beer or two that their royalty checks bought them and it was all great fun for them to tell people that they’d been signed to a European Record label!
Fast forward 30 or so years to today. Today the bass player (who didn’t even know enough to play a stand-up bass) writes a blog all about rockabilly. He still thinks he knows it all, but he doesn’t. Today Mr. Roy Williams wrote to tell said bass player, that Ridin’ in a Rocket (which is still available at Nervous as a download) netted one red American cent in royalties! I knew this music racket would make me rich one day!
It was such a nice gift to hear from Roy today after so many years. I wasn’t even sure he would remember this obscure band from the sticks of Wisconsin in a long-ago time, but he does! You should really check out what’s going on over at Nervous Records because there’s a lot of great stuff there.
And if you talk to Roy, tell him Buster’s still waiting for his cut of that one-cent royalty! Keep rockin’, Roy. And thanks for the nice note and especially for everything you’ve done for rockabilly over the years. You are a rockabilly legend, even if that obscure band from Nowheresville, Wisconsin never was!