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Similarities between Rockabilly & Hair Metal

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Author Topic: Similarities between Rockabilly & Hair Metal  (Read 2501 times)
Perplexio
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« on: July 12, 2010, 11:36:08 am »

When it was popular, I by and large ignored hair metal.  But in recent years I've come to appreciate it for what it was/is.  Just plain fun.  It's not meant to be taken seriously, it never really was.  And in listening to some of it I've noticed similarities both lyrically and musically to the rockabilly music of the mid-late 50s.

I mean if you were to listen to the music of the late Eddie Cochran (stuff like Summertime Blues, Somethin' Else, C'Mon Everybody, 20 Flight Rock)followed by songs like Great White's Once Bitten, Georgia Satellite's Keep Your Hands To Yourself, or Poison's Talk Dirty to Me you're likely to notice similar thematic elements both musically and lyrically.  The songs all seem to deal with what teenagers (and those in their early 20s) were going through in their respective eras and the tempo and mood of the songs is generally upbeat to match the rather fun lyrics.

Def Leppard however followed a somewhat different path.  While there are some musical elements of rockabilly, being British they were more heavily influenced by the glam metal of the 70s.  Thus with them you hear a bit less Eddie Cochran and a bit more T-Rex, David Bowie, and Sweet influence in their music. 

Guns 'n' Roses were a bit more heavily influenced by the Rolling Stones (former guitarist, Izzy  Stradlin, cites Keith Richards as his main influence) and while the Stones were influenced by the rockabilly musicians that came before them-- American exports that ended up influencing their British counterparts that ended up spawning the British invasion (Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent both come to mind)... GnR was seperated from rockabilly by a 2nd degree-- the British invasion. 

I was wondering if anyone else has noticed the heavy rockabilly influence on the hair metal of the 80s?  Also, does anyone else have strong examples they could/can cite?
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Hourman
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 12:08:56 pm »

Funny, I noticed more southern rock/country in the Georgia Satellite's "Keep Your Hands To Yourself", than rockabilly.

But then again, the lines sort of blur with the blues as you move along the spectrum.

I can't stand anything by Poison, so I honestly cannot say if I could hear anything in their music, because as soon as the first note comes on, I scream, "Make it stop!" and change the channel...

The thing about hair bands is how they seemed to mimic the path Kiss set in the 70s... a lot of cheesy rock anthem rock themes (i.e. "Rock And Roll All Nite") then come out with the sentimental ballad a la "Beth".

Def Leppard has personnel issues that shaped a lot of their music, coupled with their producer, John "Mutt" Lange who managed to morph their sound into sounding like other bands he produced in the past -AC/DC, Foreigner, et al.

Moving on with a one armed drummer, gave their sound a more electronic sound coupled with the other technological aspects (sampling, et al) made their sound a lot different -but often imitated (i.e. Bon Jovi)- from other arena bands.
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Perplexio
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2010, 12:55:34 pm »

Def Leppard has personnel issues that shaped a lot of their music, coupled with their producer, John "Mutt" Lange who managed to morph their sound into sounding like other bands he produced in the past -AC/DC, Foreigner, et al.

Moving on with a one armed drummer, gave their sound a more electronic sound coupled with the other technological aspects (sampling, et al) made their sound a lot different -but often imitated (i.e. Bon Jovi)- from other arena bands.

Their first 2 albums featured the 2 pronged guitar attack of Steve Clark & Pete Willis.  Clark's playing more raw & sloppy, Willis's approach more polished & clean.  Trouble was that Willis had a bit of an alcohol problem and was fired during the recording of Pyromania and replaced by Phil Collen.  On Adrenalize due to the death of Steve Clark, Phil Collen recorded both his own guitar parts and Clark's... In interviews he indicated it was so stressful for him that it nearly led him to quit the band.  His style was/is closer to Willis's polished & clean so trying to play more raw like Clark was not at all easy for him.  I'm guessing he was pretty thankful when Vivian Campbell was hired.

I've thoroughly enjoyed most of Def Lep's albums (except for X which was unmitigated crap from start to finish).  They're actually 2 extra generations removed from rockabilly:

Rockabilly begat British Invasion, British Invasion begat Glam Rock, Glam Rock begat Def Leppard

Whereas Guns & Roses would look more like this:

Rockabilly begat British Invasion, British Invasion begat the Stones, The Stones begat Guns 'n' Roses (and countless others)

With bands like Skid Row, Motley Crue, Great White, and Poison I hear a more direct:

Rockabilly begat hair metal

With bands like Metallica I hear more of a:

Rockabilly begat British Invasion, British Invasion begat Heavy Metal
Heavy Metal begat Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, & Black Sabbath
and those bands begat Metallica
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2010, 01:28:15 pm »

So what would you catagorized glam rock?

To me, glam rock was more of the product of the 1980s, which Leppard was a part of, so the chronology is a little confusing to me.
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2010, 01:36:36 pm »

Early Bowie, Gary Glitter, New York Dolls, Slade, Sweet. It was more a look than a sound, although it can be discerned from what came before & after.

John Lennon said it best: It's just rock & roll with lipstick.
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Perplexio
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2010, 01:39:59 pm »

So what would you catagorized glam rock?

To me, glam rock was more of the product of the 1980s, which Leppard was a part of, so the chronology is a little confusing to me.

Glam Rock was largely a British product of the 70s.  I'd categorize Sweet (Ballroom Blitz, Action, & Fox On the Run, Mott the Hoople (All the Young Dudes), David Bowie (too many to list, but most of us at least have a passing familiarity with his music), and T-Rex (20th Century Boy and Bang a Gong (Get It On)) as being glam rock.

Of the hair metal bands from the 80s, Def Lep is one of the only ones I'd lump into the glam rock category as they were the receivers of that musical baton from their predecessors in the previous decade.  Many of their American counterparts had influences more in the British hard rock/heavy metal of the 70s (Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple) OR caught the music bug and needed to change their underoos after the first time they heard Van Halen's Eruption when it first came out.
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2010, 02:23:39 pm »

Okay...think about this.   I never thought of it until I was readin' this thread, BUT...:

I wonder if a LOT of the bands y'all have mentioned had decided to go from a DUDE BAND to a CHICK BAND...for whatever the reason(s) and some of 'em just got REALLY big in the MIDDLE??  We wanna rock...but with cooler hair, spandex, makeup and MORE CHICKS in the audience??...think about it.  Poison didn't have the chops to be Metallica, but they could be...Ziggy Stardust...so to speak.  AND...Rockabilly was a little too SOMETHING at the time to be taken seriously;  even though they have TONS of fans...but some people just don't like it...they were like the second string of the genre...does that make sense?



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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2010, 02:27:27 pm »

AND I LOVED that ****...but it wasn't the clothes or the hair...it was the music at the time, believe it or not...it was Black Sabbath with some chivalry....not that those guys were any less dogs (WAYYY MORE!)...but y'all know what I mean.
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Charlie
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2010, 02:29:53 pm »

John Lennon said it best: It's just rock & roll with lipstick.

He also said that "all music is rehash."
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Perplexio
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2010, 02:32:34 pm »

John Lennon said it best: It's just rock & roll with lipstick.

He also said that "all music is rehash."

And then Terry Kath sang, that he'd "have to take a pass, settle for some hash" when he couldn't find his favorite brand of tasty Spam.

Oh wait, wrong kind of "re-hash." Wink
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2010, 02:34:30 pm »

and that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ, and we know what **** they got for THAT.  heh
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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2010, 02:43:57 pm »

Early Bowie, Gary Glitter, New York Dolls, Slade, Sweet. It was more a look than a sound, although it can be discerned from what came before & after.

John Lennon said it best: It's just rock & roll with lipstick.

Yeah, I thought about that -especially Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust era- but I really don't find that Def Leppard really falling into that trend (and this is where the sound comes in) because Def Leppard really wasn't about the look until the mid 80s (c. Hysteria).
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Perplexio
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2010, 02:51:33 pm »

Yeah, I thought about that -especially Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust era- but I really don't find that Def Leppard really falling into that trend (and this is where the sound comes in) because Def Leppard really wasn't about the look until the mid 80s (c. Hysteria).

They cite Sweet and David Bowie as big influences on their sound...  So even though they didn't take on "the look" until the mid-80s, imho they'd embraced at least elements of the glam sound as early as their inception. 

They've recorded their own versions of the Sweet's Action (on Retro-Active) and Hellraiser (on YEAH!).  Also on some of the collector's versions of YEAH!, Bowie's  Space Oddity was included as a bonus track.  They also recorded Mott the Hoople's Golden Age of Rock and Roll (on YEAH!) and T-Rex's 20th Century Boy (also on YEAH!)  Since they indicated in the liner notes of YEAH! that all the songs were those that influenced them and inspired them to be musicians I'd argue that although I wouldn't necessarily consider them to be glam, they are the offspring of that genre.
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KATH
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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2010, 02:53:49 pm »

Early Bowie, Gary Glitter, New York Dolls, Slade, Sweet. It was more a look than a sound, although it can be discerned from what came before & after.

John Lennon said it best: It's just rock & roll with lipstick.

Yeah, I thought about that -especially Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust era- but I really don't find that Def Leppard really falling into that trend (and this is where the sound comes in) because Def Leppard really wasn't about the look until the mid 80s (c. Hysteria).

EXACTLY...thank MTV.  Joe Elliot in those ripped up jeans singin' HYSTERIA...I never even KNEW WHAT THEY LOOKED LIKE.  WHO KNEW?  See???  I REALLY DON'T THINK THAT DEF LEP started OUT like TO BE KNOWN/REMEMBERED like that...but those guys CAN ROCK.  They put on an AWESOME SHOW...Do they care?  Doubtful...but I wonder if it was PART of the gameplan?  
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2010, 03:57:13 pm »

K. That's why I asked for clarification on the glam rock label... because while 70s bands used make-up (KISS, Bowie) I really associate that glam look to the Poisons, Motley Crew, Whitesnake look that was the beginning of the hair band era.

A lot of the British bands really seemed to pull their rock out of the blues sound -i.e. Led Zepplin... so I've felt that a lot of rock bands tried to imitate Zepplin more than anyone else.
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