Originally made up of Buzz Campbell (vocals and guitars), Johnny G. d'Artenay (vocals and upright bass), and Dave Bernson (vocals and drums), the heart of Hot Rod Lincoln's sound lies in the tradition of '50s rockabilly and early rock & roll. Forming in San Diego in 1993, the group gained a modicum of regional and national notoriety after they won Best Roots/Rockabilly/Swing Band at the 1997 San Diego Music Awards. The band first self-released their eponymous debut in 1994, near the peak of the short-lived swing revival. Hot Rod Lincoln received warm reviews and caught the attention of Dionysis Records, who released their second full-length, The Boulevard, in 1996. The Boulevard solidified the trio's sound, which was firmly planted in the Southern California tradition of melding rockabilly and psychobilly with a touch of surf, wrapped in the highly stylized leopard-print sheik of other rockabilly revivalists like Brian Setzer's Stray Cats and Southern Culture on the Skids. Their third release, Blue Café, was independently released in October of 1997, and included a title-track that was written for the band by Setzer. He was undoubtedly a large influence on the band and one of the key players in the national resurgence of the rockabilly and swing mania of the early and mid-'90s. The record was produced by Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats and with Blue Café, their exploration of their earlier roots were even more thorough than before, giving nods to early surf and rock & roll legends such as Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, and Bill Haley & the Comets. Even if the late '90s saw a significant turn for the worse in regard to the popularity of their genre, Hot Rod Lincoln outlasted the flash-in-the-pan rockabilly revivalists. For the She Devil Records' release of 1997's Hot Rod Girl, Hot Rod Lincoln served as the backing band to vocalist Josie Kreuzer. This move gained Hot Rod Lincoln a new segment of fans, confirmed their staying power, and proved that the changes in popular trend would not sway their devotion to the classic rockabilly sound. In 1999, Joey Galvan joined the group to replace Dave Bernson. The group then recorded Astronaut Girl and released it in March of 2001 on Hep Cat Records.
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