Bassist Lee Rocker said things got crazy while he was in the Stray Cats during the 1980s.
However, he and his colleagues - Brian Setzer and "Slim" Jim Phantom - emerged unscathed and a whole lot wiser."Let's just say we didn't die for rock 'n' roll," Rocker said during a phone call from a studio in San Diego. "A lot of our contemporaries ended up killing themselves for the music. And to think we were all just about 17 when the Stray Cats blew on the scene. Yes, we were very fortunate."
To celebrate how lucky he is, Rocker is currently touring in support of his latest album, "No Cats." And he is scheduled to play the soft-opening party for Salt Lake City's Hard Rock Cafe, 610 Trolley Square (500 South between 600 East and 700 East), on July 8.
"I've got a good friendship with the Hard Rock Cafe," Rocker said. "They called (the Stray Cats) up a lot during the '80s to see if we wanted to donate anything. I've got one of my basses in the Orlando (Fla.) restaurant."
Rocker originally played the cello.
"That was from the time I was 7 until about 13," he said. "Then I switched to electric bass and played until I was 15. That was about the time I started playing on an upright bass. I loved the sound so I decided to play that instead of the electric bass."
Rocker knew Setzer and Phantom from elementary school and the trio formed a band and moved to England.
"We faced the usual challenges - getting gigs and surviving the scene and all," Rocker said. "And when things did take off, they went real quickly. We were very fortunate to keep it all together."
Since his departure from the Cats, Rocker has kept his ties with his compadres in tact.
"We're all still friends," he said. "And that's the way it should be."
Rocker has indulged in his music more and even started his own record label - Upright Records.
"I hope to be able to sign other new bands on it," he said. "The Stray Cats had a lot of help from people who were in the business. I mean we opened for the Rolling Stones; Willie Nelson and I formed a tight relationship with Carl Perkins until he passed on.
"So, I hope I can help some struggling band get somewhere," Rocker said. "That's a goal of mine."