Psychobilly is a style of dress associated with the fusion rock subgenre that combines the sonar elements of rockabilly country rock and punk rock, along with visual elements lifted from horror films and late-night sci-fi movies. Dark imagery is also central to an offshoot of psychobilly known as gothabilly.
Psychobilly fashion borrowed elements of 1950s rockabilly/rock and roll, 1970s punk fashions, and later on, scooterboy and skinhead subcultures. It has been described as a reaction to the earlier British Teddy Boy movement.
- Hairstyle: 1950s style quiff or flat-top, often bleached with shaved back & sides
- Sleeves: Psychos often cut the arms off of their leather jackets, converting them into vests, and decorate the jackets with horror imagery or band logos.
- Jackets: Long "Old Mans" overcoats, flight jackets, mechanic's jackets, motorcycle jackets and leather jackets, usually painted and studded
- Band t-shirts and more band t-shirts
- Army trousers, bleached jeans & Dr Martin Boots
- Tattoos of vintage themes, pin up dolls and macabre images
- "Live fast, die young, and leave a (not so) beautiful corpse."
Skinheads brought in things such as Doc Martens and pilot jackets
Psychobilly emerged from rockabilly, particularly the neo-rockabilly movement [in] London during the late 1970s, with traces of glam, metal, punk and ska.
In the mid-to late 1970s, as punk rock became popular, several rockabilly and garage rock bands appeared who would influence the development of psychobilly. The first definitive band of the genre was The Cramps, a part of New York City's thriving punk movement who used the term "psychobilly" from the Cash song to describe their music on flyers advertising their concerts.
The first wave occurred in New York City in the 1970s and reached Britain in the early 1980s; the second wave took place at the end of that decade and spread through the rest of Europe, and the third crested in the late 1990s with the genre finding international popularity.
It still remained largely unnoticed in the United States, where the albums were poorly distributed and most psychobilly bands preferred to play weekenders than to tour. Nick 13 states that while other British youth trends such as scooter riding, the skinhead subculture, and 2 Tone ska crossed over to the United States during the 1980s, psychobilly did not.
The third wave of psychobilly began in the mid-1990s, with many acts incorporating influences from genres such as: hardcore punk, indie rock, heavy metal, new wave, goth rock, surf rock, country, and ska. Tiger Army, formed in Berkeley in 1996, became the dominant American psychobilly act following the release of their 1999 self-titled debut.
Psychobilly musicians and fans, who are sometimes called "psychos" or just "Psychobillies," The Klub Foot nightclub, opened in 1982 at the Clarendon Hotel in Hammersmith, served as a center for Britain's emerging psychobilly movement and hosted many bands associated with the style. Johnny Bowler of the Guana Batz describes the club as "the focal point for the whole psychobilly scene.
Lucky-13 "is an American hot rod clothing company proudly servicing pinup, rockabilly, psychobilly, rock n' roll, and punk rock guys and gals for over 15 years" Inked Fashion calls itself "the rockabilly shop for petticoat, psychobilly and rockabilly clothing." Paper Doll Productions sells what it calls the "...boldest psychobilly designs on the market today, fantastic for anyone who has a love of vintage style and classic horror. Inspired by rockabilly fashion, psychobilly has the same influences of 40's and 50's clothing but features a far greater modern flair, incorporating bold colours and horror themed designs to create an entirely unique genre of clothing."