Setzer was born April 1959 in Massapequa, New York. He started on the euphonium and played in jazz bands when he was in school. He found a way to hear jazz at the Village Vanguard, though as he got older he got interested in rock, punk, and rockabilly. He was a member of the Bloodless Pharaohs and the Tomcats, which he began with his brother, Gary. The Tomcats became the Stray Cats when double bassist Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom joined. In 1980, thinking they might have more success in England than in America, they sold their instruments to pay for airplane tickets and flew to London.
After performing in London for a few months, they met Dave Edmunds, a guitarist and record producer who shared their love of rockabilly and 1950s rock and roll. Edmunds produced their debut album, Stray Cats (Arista, 1981), which yielded two hit singles, "Stray Cat Strut" and "Rock This Town". The second album, Gonna Ball (Arista, 1982), was less successful. The band returned to America and released Built for Speed (EMI, 1982), produced again by Dave Edmunds, with songs collected from their first two albums. Helped by their music videos on MTV, the Stray Cats became popular in America. Their next album, Rant n' Rave with the Stray Cats (EMI, 1983) produced the hit "(She's) Sexy + 17".
The Stray Cats disbanded in 1984, though they reunited occasionally, recorded, and toured. After recording three albums with different producers, they returned to Dave Edmunds for Choo Choo Hot Fish (1992).
The Brian Setzer Orchestra
The Brian Setzer Orchestra performing in the White House during a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, June 29, 2006
Honor of being asked by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to donate a replica of his original 1959 Gretsch 6120 Stray Cats guitar, joining an elite collection of iconic treasures at the museum, 2014
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