Tag Archives: Brian Setzer

Brian Setzer Donates Gretsch Guitar to the Smithsonian

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Brian Setzer

Grammy Award-winning musician Brian Setzer donated his signature orange Gretsch guitar to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History during a ceremony on Oct. 17.

The replica guitar is evocative of Setzer’s original 1959 Gretsch 6120 “Stray Cat” guitar, for which he raided his Monopoly game for two dice, drilled holes in them and attached them to take the place of the missing tone knobs. To help resemble a 1950s-era “hot rod,” Setzer added three decals that, in the replica, were duplicated by Gretsch.

The Gretsch signature artist  is known for continually taking chances with innovative and daring musical styles, while single-handedly resurrecting two forgotten genres of music, first with 1980s rockabilly band the Stray Cats and then again in the late 1990s with his 18-piece “Rockin’ Big Band,” The Brian Setzer Orchestra. Setzer also appeared on the big screen in the 1987 Ritchie Valens biographical film La Bamba, portraying rockabilly pioneer Eddie Cochran.

“Brian Setzer is a prolific and distinctive contributor to American music,” said John Edward Hasse, the museum’s curator of American music. “Proof of his legacy exists not only in the longevity of his career and in his lengthy discography, but also in his ability to cross musical boundaries.”

In 1982, Setzer released “Rock This Town,” his first single with the Stray Cats and a track on which he played a 1959 Gretsch 6120 model guitar. As the guitar aged, it began to fall apart. Gretsch Custom Shop Master Builder Stephen Stern replicated every detail of the original guitar, and when he presented it to Setzer, the rockabilly star found it to be virtually indistinguishable from his original. It is the 2006 replica that is now in the museum’s collection.

“What an honor it is to be in the Smithsonian just for playing the music that I love,” said Setzer. “Maybe in a hundred years people will look at my guitar and be inspired to play it and enjoy it the way I do.”

Setzer’s guitar joins a large and diverse collection of musical instruments at the museum that includes Joh

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Brian Setzer Gets the Party Going in ‘Let’s Shake’ Video

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Brian Setzer Let's ShakeBrian Setzer’s latest album Rockabilly Riot recently came out via Surfdog Records, and the former Stray Cats frontman has a few visuals to go along with it.

For the video for “Let’s Shake,” Setzer really revs up the party with several guest dancers and psychedelic backdrops, while the lyric video for “Lemme Slide” attracts the eyes with abstract angles and colors.

Check out both clips below.

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Brian Setzer Gets Shakin’ in New Song

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With a new album on the way called Rockabilly Riot: All Original (Aug. 12), the great Brian Setzer dropped an advanced track that is a perfect representation of his electric 1950s-inspired sound.

“Let’s Shake” clocks in at 3:29 and is pure rockabilly, with hand claps, a jangly pace and a searing Setzer guitar solo.

Speaking of guitar solos, Setzer recently shared his favorite one with Time.

“We could talk all day about that, but the best guitar solo, the one that changed everything for me, was in ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula,’” he told the magazine.  “I was in a punk rock club in New York. I was underage, 17 or so, so it must have been ’79 or ’78. The music was all punk rock and New Wave was just starting, but I heard ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ come on and it was like a hand came across the room and grabbed me and said, ‘Listen to this!’ That guitar solo was half twangy, half rock ‘n’ roll. It made no kind of sense, but all kind of sense. It had it all. It had beautiful finger-picking, it had single string; it was musical, but it was rock ‘n’ roll. That guitar solo has them all beat.”

Stream the audio for “Let’s Shake” below and just try to stay in your seat.

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The History and Magic of Gretsch Guitars

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Join some of the world’s greatest Gretsch guitarists for a fascinating look at Gretsch guitars—their dazzling style, fantastic tone, colorful history and more. “The History and Magic of Gretsch Guitars” features artists including Duane Eddy, the Cult’s Billy Duffy, Jim “Reverend Horton Heat” Heath, Collective Soul’s Ed Roland, Brian Setzer, Billy Zoom and others, and takes you on a great guided tour of “That Great Gretsch Sound!”

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Five (More) Great Gretsch Movie Moments

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We offered a list of five great Gretsch movie moments a few months back. Since there’s plenty more where they came from, however, here are a few more great Gretsch cinematic appearances.

Help!, 1965

Directed by Richard Lester, Help!, was the second feature film from the Beatles.  The comedy adventure’s plot was based around the band running up against an evil cult that was about to sacrifice a woman to the goddess Kaili.  Unfortunately, the woman in question is not wearing the sacrificial ring.  Guess who has the ring stuck on their finger?  Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

We won’t spoil the rest of the flick for you, but it should be noted that there were several musical performances during Help!, as well, and the soundtrack was even released as an album.  Most notably during a performance of “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” in the film, George Harrison is seen strumming a Country Gentleman.

(more…)

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