Sporting bodacious pompadours, tattoos, and leather jackets, the Stray Cats looked like a rockabilly band straight out of central casting. That was by the design of Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker, and Slim Jam Phantom, a trio of Long Island renegades who were attempting to keep the fire of old-time rock & roll burning during the height of punk and new wave. It took some time -- and a trip across the Atlantic -- for them to succeed, but when they did, it was beyond all expectations. For a few years in the early 1980s, the Stray Cats were one of the hottest bands in rock & roll, racking up Top Ten hits -- "Rock This Town," "Stray Cat Strut," "(She's) Sexy + 17" -- with the aid of the newly founded MTV, which found their retro fashion visually kinetic. The group's fall was nearly as swift their ascendency -- by the end of the '80s, they had ...
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