The Reverend Horton Heat

The Reverend Horton Heat is perhaps the most popular psychobilly artist of all time, his recognition only rivaled by the esteem generated by the genre's founders, the Cramps. The Reverend (as both the three-man band and its guitar-playing frontman were known) built a strong cult following during the '90s through constant touring, manic showmanship, and a twisted sense of humor. The latter was nothing new in the world of psychobilly, of course, and Heat's music certainly kept the trashy aesthetic of his spiritual forebears. The Reverend's true innovation was updating the psychobilly sound for the alternative rock era. In his hands, it was something more than retro-obsessed kitsch -- it had roaring distorted guitars, it rocked as hard as any punk band, and it didn't look exclusively to pop culture of the past for its style or subject matter. Most of the Reverend's lyrics were gonzo celebrations of sex, drugs, booze, and cars, and true to his name, his concerts often featured mock sermons in the style of a rural revivalist preacher. The band's initial recordings were released by that bastion of indie credibility, Sub Pop, at the height of the grunge craze; after a spell on the major label Interscope, the Reverend Horton Heat returned to the independent world, still a highly profitable draw on the concert circuit.