Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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“Bluebirds Over the Mountain”: Reggaebilly?

If you’re like me (someone who didn’t have access to YouTube growing up), you’re probably familiar with this iconic photo of rockabilly singer, Ersel Hickey, but maybe         not his big 1958 hit,  “Bluebirds Over the Mountain”:Ersel Hickey

Check out the loping guitar intro with the lead guitar and bass playing the melody line in harmony – sounds very much like rocksteady or early reggae … but a good 8 years before it was even invented!   Could this be the earliest (unintended) example of “pop reggae” in the American music marketplace?

I cannot take credit for coining the term “reggaebilly,” for that distinction goes to former Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys sideman, Peter Rowan, who released an album in 2001 bearing a title of the same name.

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