Ronnie Self: a true rockabilly kat

The information for this blog is from the Rockabilly Hall of Fame page, — some were interpreted, some were just lifted.  Self’s lyrics we taken from this site as well.  Read the article and get more than I included.  It’s a great site, and I thank them for making this incredible information available.

One of the kats that has influenced me the most is Ronnie Self.  He was born in Tin Town, MO, July 5, 1938, and died, August 28, 1981 in Springfield MO.  He was a true rebel, rocker, and rockabilly.  As Rockabilly Hall of Fame article states:  “he’s a footnote in rock & roll history outside of Europe, where he’s treated as a legend (Bruce Elder).  He wrote hits, but he never quite got hold of the brass ring, which is really too bad.

He was a wild-man on stage.  According to his sister, Vicki, “He’d start at the far back of the stage, throw his guitar over his back and run out to the mike, grab the mike stand and go right down on the floor with it and sing the first song. That was how he’d start. He’d never stop moving on stage … He’d turn around with his back to the audience and face the band – but he never stood still. He’d never talk to the crowd, just went from one song to another but the band never knew what it was gonna be. He did “Roll Over Beethoven” and he rocked up some stuff that was country, like Hank Williams, and his own tunes.”

“Bop-A-Lena” topped the charts at 68, and it was the highest he made it on his own.  He had a string of labels that singed and released him, and nothing stuck.   In 1969 he received a Grammy for “Best Sacred Performance” for Jake Hess’s rendition of  “Ain’t That Beautiful Singing.”  But in the end he was too wild and unpredictable for the conservative music industry and never had success in either recording or performance.

Yet Ronnie Self is one of my strongest influences.  He gives me the permissions I need to sing like I sing, and to be the performer I have developed into.  He rocked, he rolled, he bopped.  He had what looked like hillbillies for sidemen, and he was pure Rockabilly.

There’s a Decca recording that was never released titled, “Some Other World”, the lyrics reflect his own epitaph, and could well be the motto of any current Rockabilly, Punkabilly, Cowpunk, Psychobilly kat out there:

Down with your theories/Down with your conventions
This cat lives in another dimension
You like my sounds/You like my song
I guess I’m right and you cats are wrong.”

Also check out some of these links below to hear some of Self’s music:

Ain’t I’m A Dog —

Bop-A-Lena —

Petrified —

Pretty Bad Blues —


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