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Brian Setzer

With his guitar chops and retro-chic frontman persona, Brian Setzer helped launch two unlikely revivals during his career: rockabilly and swing. Born in Massapequa, New York, he spent most of his youth in nearby Long Island, where he received his first instrument -- the euphonium -- at age eight. He played the tuba-like instrument for ten years and dreamt of fronting a big band with horns, although the discovery of punk music during his teens expanded his tastes beyond jazz. He began devoting time to both genres; his early attempts at songwriting would take their cues from blues-rock bands like Led Zeppelin, but he'd also spend his evenings in New York jazz clubs, sneaking into places like the Village Vanguard and the Village Gate. After seeing the Mel Lewis Orchestra, he formed the idea of leading his own big band -- but doing so as a guitarist.

In the early '80s, Setzer formed the Stray Cats, a rockabilly band that took England by storm before coming back home to convert audiences in the U.S. The Stray Cats' breakthrough album in America, Built for Speed, spurred three separate Top Ten hits, including "Stray Cat Strut" and "Rock This Town." While touring the country with the Stray Cats, Setzer practiced jazz chords and listened to the recordings of Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, and other big-band leaders. After the group's demise (and a largely unsuccessful turn as a solo roots rocker), Setzer turned to jazz music by forming a 17-piece big band for a series of L.A. club dates.

After cutting an album of cover songs for a smaller label, Setzer took his big band to Interscope Records, which issued Guitar Slinger in 1996. The album blended jump blues, swing, and Texas blues; moreover, it established the Brian Setzer Orchestra as part of the swing revival, a genre that had begun gaining popularity in America thanks to groups like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Squirrel Nut Zippers. The revival was in full swing by the time The Dirty Boogie appeared in 1998, and the band's cover of Louis Prima's "Jump Jive an' Wail" became a huge hit, resulting in two Grammy Awards and a healthy amount of radio airplay. Vavoom! followed in 2000 and Ignition! appeared 2001, although neither managed to go platinum like The Dirty Boogie. In 2002, Setzer added a Christmas album (Boogie Woogie Christmas) to his résumé, followed by the greatest-hits anthology Jump, Jive an' Wail: The Best of the Brian Setzer Orchestra 1994-2000.

Although he continued working with the Brian Setzer Orchestra in the 2000s, Setzer also set time aside to work on his solo career, having released a number of solo albums during the previous two decades as well. He issued a Japanese EP in 2003 -- the Sinatra-inspired Luck Be a Lady -- as a prelude to the rocking and decidedly horn-deficient full-length Nitro Burnin' Funny Daddy, which followed several months later. Rockabilly Riot, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Sun Records appeared in 2005, and Setzer closed out the year with another big-band holiday album, Dig That Crazy Christmas. The aptly titled 13, which marked Setzer's 13th album of original solo material, arrived in late 2006 and became a big hit in Japan, where the song "Back Streets of Tokyo" cracked the Top Five.

A pair of live albums, One Rockin' Night: Live in Montreal and Red Hot & Live! -- the latter drawing its material from a 2006 show in Japan -- both appeared in 2007. The Brian Setzer Orchestra returned to the recording studio for 2009's Songs from Lonely Avenue, but they were back on the road before the year's end, with another concert album (Don't Mess with a Big Band, released in 2010) celebrating their endurance as a live act. In 2011, Setzer released the non-vocal album Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!, featuring his instrumental take on such classic songs as “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” “Cherokee,” and others. The live collection Rockabilly Riot! Live From the Planet, featuring performances recorded during his 2011/2012 wordl tour, followed in 2012. ~ Richard Skelly & Andrew Leahey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

garammasala1 9 6 8
Brian Setzer is my favorite of all time!!!
Nona I'm 11 and iv had this music my whole life and I just simply love it
I dance every time I here this
I'm 12 and I love this bluesy swing rockabilly stuff really keeps me going
A true heart, love his evolution, his old NY days, and now the master.
Young lads, if you seek the lady's hand, try a little Setzer on that, it will work wonders
Love it!
Love his beat, very energetic, feel likebI'm on speed
Brian is one hep cat. Go, daddyo.
julie_ann6
I was 13 too-but not the only one...! That was in full Stray Cat glory days. Brian's music is still some of the very besssst out there! Jams me through my workdays!! Thanks Mr. Stray Cat!
Love this instrumental version! Setzer is one of the best! Loved watching him w his orchestra in Los Angeles 2 X-mases ago! They rocked the joint!!!!!
Brian Setzer must be my all time favorite musician of all time!!!
sandahltim
Funny thing, Setzler has a home in Mpls and hangs out a NE Mpls bar that I frequent. Was totally blown away when one day this funny looking guy buys the whole bar a round...turn s out it was Brian!
Noah, you are NOT the only 13 year old that listens to Rockabilly, I promise! :) Keep listening, kid. :) I was the only 13 year old I knew that listened to it back then, too. :)
I saw BSO LIVE just FABULOUS !
Im 13 and im the only kid that listens to Rockabilly and blues
Last BSO show I attended (4 total now) was the Christmas show at the Ryman in Nashville. Took my kids of 17 and 14 and they loved it. It's very cool to be driving with my younger son and him asking to hear some BSO. Rock lives on thanks to Brian Setzer. Cool cat!
I started a station with squirel nut zippers. Now BSO is taking over. Simply cannot turn up the volume enough! Have to see them live no matter the cost
keep jamming, brian came to santa rosa ca a few years back ,the back row was $100.00 ouch ! i regreted not going .
Coolest Cat there is! I have his portrait tattooed on my arm and even have gretsch guitars because of him! By far the most underrated guitarist there is!!!! Listen to those licks....... D a m n !
Smokin...... .
wloughran600
This is a multi talent next to none he rocks he rolls he swings he does it all
Wish I could see in person someday god willing!
Just back from the Minneapolis Christmas show on Nov 17th 2012. AMAZING show. Forgot for a long time about his abilities until I rediscovered my intrest from the 80's. This is a MUST SEE artist!
This guy is massively underrated as a guitarist, saw him in Kettering Ohio and he melted the stage- Rumble in Brighton left everyone spent...
I will be seeing Brian Setzer this coming September 14, 2012 'I can't wait, it will be my first time seeing him perform at the Hollywood Bowl in So Cal'.
theykilledke n n y 8
Sorry my whole point of my comment was Brian Setzer came out to watch Bob Dylan. Who wouldn't? He was very gracious to all the fans that came to talk to him even though you could see he was exhausted. He put his all into a show in Tallahassee as an opening act. I admire him for that.
theykilledke n n y 8
I saw The Brian Setzer Orchestra open for Bob Dylan in Tallahassee years ago. I know most of the people I knew, where there to see Brian Setzer. It was a great show. My mom went with me to see Bob Dylan but in the long run preferred the opening act.
ladydi51
I am dying to see them in the U.S.! (Western Mass) Doesn't look like anytime soon though :(
jstagirl2004
I have seen BSO many times and everytime I see him he amazes me. Not only is he a great musician but he is also very nice and funny as I have met him a few times. He loves the music he plays and he is very thankful for his fans. Brian I hope you never stop doing what you love.
scottdustin7 0 5
Tried to get my Gretsch pick guard signed by Brian, but didn't happen. But the concert was AWESOME! Front row, center!
im only 14 and only kid at school who love this stuff!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
johnsonjeann i e
This cat can swing, love his xmas cd's !!!!!!
I
ADORE this guy! the xmas cd's are so awesome!! His music is sexy!!!!
saw them in the early 80s as the cats and brian setzer orch. in 97 rip it up
Leaving this one to Kevin Norton...one of the kool cats on trumpet.
Love Brian Setzer and his Orchestra!
Not a bad version, but not the original. Still, a good version...Br i a n is an accomplished musician.
Awsome song! Good beat.
Korn? What is this 1996? Dr.Dre's last album was in 2000! These kids with their loud music and baggy clothes, hippin' and hoppin' all the time with their hair bands! Awesome.
lillybellera d i o
You're mostly right Keith. When I talk classic rock with my friends, it's pretty much a monologue. However there are younger people like MJL and I trying to share the classics with others. It's just hard for them to accept something that isn't what the media wants them to like (Miley). Don't give up hope on kids; fads pass, but true classics live forever.
Hey Keith, I'm 16 year old girl and in love with this band, 50's, ska, and jump blues. So... don't give up on teenagers just yet. And don't generalize.
Saw BSO at the Gibson Amphitheatre on 12/19. It was an excellent show, full of fun, Christmas music, hits, covers, and just plain good stuff!
Saw him and the band at Foxwoods last night. A fantastic show and performer.
brian was never with the polecats (who were excellent), his first band was The Bloodless Pharoes and the original name of the Straycats was the Tomcats.
BRIAN CAN PLAY ORIGINAL ROCK N ROLL BETTER THAN ANYONE
how delightfully retro - i had a drummer that wanted to try to cover Brian's stuff and I thought, "yeah - and what club owner could ever pay us enough", lol good stuff..
pwv1954
Long live David Lee Roth???? He wishes he had half the talent Brian Setzer has.
Luv this Man!
he's somethin' else

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