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Brian Setzer

Brian Setzer bio, timeline, discography, pics & more

Brian Setzer

Brian Setzer photo 2007

Brian Setzer Biography

Guitarist + singer & songwriter Brian Setzer was born April 10, 1959 in Long Island, New York USA. As a teenager, Setzer drew inspiration from '50s' Rockabilly, fused it with New Wave, Punk and created a phenomenon with his band: Stray Cats. The trio first hit the U.K. charts in 1981 and such tunes as "Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut" both became top 10 smashes in U.S. over a year after their British chart peaks.

After Stray Cats broke up for the first of several times in 1984, Brian Setzer started working on his first solo album, the surprisingly ambitious Heartland-Rock oriented "The Knife Feels Like Justice", which he released in 1986; it reached the #45 position on The Billboard Top 200 Albums chart and the title-cut peaked at #13 on The Mainstream Rock Tracks.

Two years later he released his second solo set, "Live Nude Guitars", which only went to #140 on The Billboard 200 chart producing a Mainstream Rock top 40 minor hit with "When The Sky Comes Tumblin' Down".

During the early '90s, when Grunge ruled the charts, Setzer assembled his monstrous big band complete with a 13-piece horn section that ignited an international modern Swing explosion.
"The Brian Setzer Orchestra" was released in 1994 to little commercial success.

Another disappointing LP, "Guitar Slinger", followed two years later.

With his third Orchestra album and fifth solo album overall, Brian Setzer again found himself at the top of the music business; released in June 1998, "The Dirty Boogie" sold millions of copies peaking at #9 on The Billboard 200; the disc contained "You're The Boss", an Elvis Presley/Ann Margret duet, recasted for Setzer and No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani as well as the Modern Rock top 20 hit "Jump Jive An' Wail", a cover of Sicilian-American Jazz trumpeter Louis Prima.
The hard work finally paid off when The Brian Setzer Orchestra racked up two Grammy wins on February 25, 1999 at the 41st Grammy ceremony. The first was for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Sleepwalk", "Jump Jive An' Wail" won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group.

Setzer continued his second round of hipness and commercial success with "Vavoom!", released in June 2000 this album crawled its way to #62 on The Billboard 200 and "Caravan" was eventually awarded a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

The following year the pompadoured Long Islander returned with a three-piece ensemble under the banner of Brian Setzer '68 Comeback Special. If the name represents homage to Elvis Presley, the trio's disc, "Ignition!", represents a return to purist Rockabilly; the album failed to rival the success of its two predecessors and stalled at #152 on The Billboard 200.

In October 2002 Brian Setzer redefined holiday music with the release of "Boogie Woogie Christmas", a 12-song set recorded with his horn-fueled big band which debuted at #141 on the U.S. Top 200 Albums chart.

Exactly one year later, he released a new solo album entitled "Nitro Burnin' Funny Daddy" on Surfdog Records, this was also the hardest-rocking Setzer effort since his mid-'80s work but didn't come close to cracking The Billboard 200 Sales list only reaching the #23 spot on the Top Independent Albums chart.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra's second Christmas offering, "Dig That Crazy Christmas", pretty much picked right up where "Boogie Woogie Christmas" left off, peaking at a respectable #56 on the Billboard all-genre Top 200 chart upon its October 2005 release.

In October 2006, the veteran Rockabilly artist churned out his next solo album, "13", which barely scraped into the top 40 of the U.S. Independent chart.

The following year, Brian Setzer reconvened his big band for its first non-Christmas-related set since 2000's "Vavoom!". With "Wolfgang’s Big Night Out", Setzer embarked on the most ambitious undertaking of his career in re-arranging and orchestrating well-known classical themes from Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and others into Vegas-ized Rat Pack-era Swing. The disc debuted at #141 on The Billboard 200, falling just one position short of #1 on the special U.S. Top Classical Crossover Albums chart.

Setzer just completed his new record entitled "Songs From Lonely Avenue". The album features 13 new original songs all written by Setzer. Inspired by the attitude and tension of the film noir soundtracks from the '40s and '50s, Setzer set out to create songs that carry a classic cinematic mood that's missing from today's musical landscape; the opening track, "Trouble Train", sets the mood for the whole album.


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Brian Setzer pictures:

  • Brian Setzer 1997 Brian Setzer 1997
    Brian Setzer in 1997