Based on their name, Big Daddy Sun & the Outer Planets come across like a poor man's Sun Ra's Intergalactic Arkestra. But rockabilly, not avant-garde or space jazz, was the stylistic choice of the former group. This was also unforgettable rockabilly, according to reports from audiences in many Midwest towns who caught the band during its barnstorming days in the '80s. A surge of interest in the genre at the outset of that decade made the act a bookable thing and, in turn, the group itself -- fronted by an outrageous lead singer and guitarist with an enormous red pompadour -- seemed like crusaders of some kind to fans. Many inspired listeners went right out and started their own rockabilly bands, or at the very least grew and greased pompadours so they could fit into one if necessary.
Big Daddy Sun & the Outer Planets was first formed in the Champaign-Urbana area in 1979. Within two years, the group had cut a fine album that was eventually reissued by the Pravda label. Starting with the usual repertoire of classics by Carl Perkins and Johnny Burnette, the group began working in its own material and was at times averaging five live gigs per week. A series of unpredictable tragedies sidelined the band from making a national reputation, however. The aforementioned red-haired frontman, whose stage name was Urban Dim, was jumped and stabbed by hoodlums on his way to see another band play, putting him out of commission for a crucial series of gigs. Then a large, well-paid tour opening up for Perkins himself was canceled when his son, who just happened to also be his drummer, got injured in car wreck. On a national level, the band's largest exposure took place, sadly enough, when it supplied vocals for a Donkey Kong cereal ad.