When the Stray Cats Reunited After 10 Years

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The Stray Cats, April 21, 2018 at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo: Suzie Kaplan; used with permission)

Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom–original founding members of the acclaimed American rock and roll trio, the Stray Cats–reunited for their first North American performance in 10 years on April 21, 2018, in Las Vegas at The Orleans when they headlined the 15,000 capacity “Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend.”

The group, known for their high-energy performances with hits such as “Stray Cat Strut,” “(She’s) Sexy + 17,” and “Rock This Town,” played before a sold-out audience. The concert was such a success that they subsequently recorded a new album and organized a full blown 40th anniversary reunion tour in 2019.

Watch them perform in Vegas on April 21, 2018

Formed by guitarist/vocalist Setzer, upright bass player Rocker and drummer Phantom in the Long Island town of Massapequa, N.Y., in 1979, the trio shared a love for rockabilly music and after banging around New York and Philadelphia for a few months, in the summer of 1980, they were persuaded by a mutual friend to hop a plane to London where a rockabilly revival movement was just beginning to emerge.

Related: Our review of the Stray Cats’ debut album

The group remained active until 1984, then again from 1986-93 and 2004-09.

Watch another from the April 2018 reunion concert

One more…

Of the new album in 2019, Setzer, born April 10, 1959, said, “You have to understand how unique the Stray Cats are. It’s me playing an old hollow body guitar, Slim Jim playing two or three drums, and Lee Rocker slapping a stand-up acoustic bass. I get to write new songs and then play them with my buddies. Somehow we created a new and exciting sound with this simple idea. And you know what? A lot of people agree!”

Phantom, born March 21, 1961, added, “We’re very, very focused when we get into the studio, it didn’t feel like a long time had passed since we had done this, it felt very natural and familiar. We were all in a row with everyone watching each other, so it felt like a gig in the set-up. We really embraced that a little bit for the album, it’s like an old way of making records. The modern is meeting the vintage, which has always been our inspiration.”

And Rocker, born Aug. 3, 1961, said, “For the recording, we went live–like doing a gig, we recorded in a real, organic way. We were all in one room standing next to each other recording live, with the amps turned up to 10, it captured the undefinable things that happen when a band is great, it captured the magic that takes place and an undefined spark.”

The Stray Cats are reuniting once again in 2024. Tickets are available here and here.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

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2 Comments so far

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  1. Stick
    #1 Stick 22 April, 2021, 09:19

    The Stray Cats are one of the Best bands from the 80s. They still can perform at an high energy level. Ive seen them numerous times and their shows are never a disappointment. The Stray Cats should play during the Super Bowl Halftime. A great band that would Rock This Town for all to see.

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  2. Baybluesman
    #2 Baybluesman 21 April, 2022, 23:45

    Did not see them in their 80’s heyday, but saw them at a multi-band event at Baltimore Arena (Now Royal Farms) in 2007, and the Stray Cats blew the roof off the place.

    That is really saying something, as the other bands playing were ZZ Top, The Pretenders, and REO Speedwagon, all bands which I enjoy both live, as well as many of their collective studio albums.

    Brian Setzer is an amazing and nimble guitarist – If you need convincing, check out Brian Setzer’s “The Dirty Boogie” LP (as well as many others), as an example.

    Setzer extrapolates and soars on his studio recordings when playing live.
    If you have the opportunity to see Brian Setzer live, by all means do so; it is highly recommended, IMHO.

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