As the Stray Cats’ bassist, Lee Rocker amassed miles and stories as he crisscrossed the globe playing songs like “Stray Cat Strut,” “Sexy & 17” and “Rock This Town.”
He plans to share his music and stories during his Saturday, April 7, appearance at the Chandler Center for the Arts.
“It’s a concert, of course,” Rocker says. “But I’m definitely telling stories from throughout my career. The show in Chandler also incorporates video and photographs. It’s a hybrid kind of concert thing.”
Rocker and the Stray Cats sold more than 10 million records, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has included “Rock This Town” as one of the 500 most important songs in rock.
Rocker added color to the Stray Cats live by spinning, tossing and catching his upright double bass. Playing music is pretty much all he has known.
“My whole career and life as a musician took off so quickly,” he recalls. “When I was 17, I moved with Brian (Setzer) and Jim (Slim Jim Phantom)—before we were called the Stray Cats—from New York to London.
“The first few months we were sleeping in the park, or at all-night movie theaters. Things did click after the first couple months of living like that. It was like being shot out of a cannon. Life has moved quickly, and I’ve gotten to work with a lot of amazing, fascinating people.”
He recalls Mick Jagger wanting to produce the Stray Cats in the early days. The trio passed on the opportunity and Rocker calls it, “the right choice.” Rocker was a close friend of Carl Perkins, before his death.
He’ll relive those days with Setzer and Phantom when the Stray Cats play their first show in 10 years at Viva La Vegas Festival on April 21. The trio will reunite again on July 4 in Naperville, Illinois, for a rib festival.
“We’ve been talking on the phone and catching up together, me, Brian and Jim,” he says. “That’s going to be amazing.”
Rocker’s other 2018 plans include releasing a live album he recorded at Daryl’s House, a venue run by Daryl Hall. He’s unsure of the release date.
“My band is a well-oiled machine now,” he says with a laugh. “We’re hitting the mark now where we’re just so connected that it’s a real pleasure to get on stage with the guys.
“I think I cherry picked songs from throughout my career—‘Sexy & 17,’ ‘Stray Cat Strut’—things from my solo career and back to Phantom, Rocker and Slick, doing ‘Men Without Shame,’ a track that MTV loved, a nice hit around 1985. It’ll be fun.”
Lee Rocker, Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler, 480.782.2680, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7, $24-$42.