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The Kingbees

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Like the Stray Cats and the Polecats, the Kingbees revived rockabilly with an '80s new wave flavor. The band was formed by Jamie James (vocals, guitar) in 1979. Born in Toronto, Canada, James started playing guitar at the age of 13. He relocated to London, England in the '70s and released the single "Hello Little Girl." In 1973, he joined an R&B group in Detroit, Michigan. By the late '70s, James had moved to Southern California and became part of the area's rockabilly scene. With Michael Rummans (bass) and Rex Roberts (drums), James helped to return rockabilly to the pop landscape. The Kingbees signed with RSO, and their self-titled debut LP appeared in 1980. The album was initially a commercial bust until the track "My Mistake" hit number one in Detroit. It became the Kingbees' first of two singles -- "Shake Bop" was the other -- that penetrated the Billboard charts. The Kingbees also recorded material for the soundtrack to 1980's The Idolmaker. However, RSO went defunct just when their follow-up, The Big Rock, came out. James started performing with former Stray Cats members Lee Rocker and Slim Jim with regular gigs at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California. In 1993, James released Cruel World, followed by Crossroads in 2000. An expanded edition of the debut Kingbees album was released by Omnivore Records in 2015; the same label brought out an upgraded version of The Big Rock the following year. ~ Michael Sutton

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