Stylistic origins: Blues, garage rock, rhythm and blues, punk rock, rockabilly, rock and roll
Cultural origins: Late 1970s England
Typical instruments: Guitar, double bass, drums
Mainstream popularity: Popular in England and Europe in the 1980s. Gained popularity in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The term "Psychobilly" was first used in the lyrics to the country song "One Piece at a Time", a Top 10 hit for Johnny Cash in the United States in 1976. The rock band The Cramps appropriated the term from the Cash song and described their music as "Psychobilly" and "rockabilly voodoo" on flyers advertising their concerts. They have since rejected the idea of being a part of a psychobilly subculture, noting that they were just trying to drum up business. It wasn't, they said, meant as a style of music.
Psychobilly is a fusion of rock music that mixes elements of punk rock, rockabilly, and other genres. It is often characterised by lyrical references to science fiction, horror and exploitation films, violence, lurid sexuality, and other topics generally considered taboo, though often presented in a comic or tongue-in-cheek fashion. Psychobilly gained underground popularity in Europe in the early 1980s, but remained largely unknown in the United States until the late 1990s. Since then the advent of several notable psychobilly bands has led to its mainstream popularity and attracted international attention to the genre.
Psychobilly musicians and fans often dress in styles that borrow from 1950s rockabilly and rock and roll, as well as 1970s punk fashions. Men often wear brothel creepers or Dr. Martens boots and shave their heads into high wedge-shaped pompadours or quiffs, military-style crops, or mohawks. Women of the psychobilly subculture frequently model their fashions after B-grade horror films and hot rod culture.