“The Sound Is Monstrous, Dirty and Twangy”: Watch Brian Setzer’s “Girl on the Billboard” Music Video Featuring the Quintessential Rock and Roll Tone of a 1957 Gretsch Jet Fire Bird

Brian Setzer
(Image credit: Russ Harrington)

Brian Setzer has released the first single from his forthcoming LP, The Devil Always Collects. Available via Surfdog Records, Setzer’s latest solo album is due out on September 15.

Accompanied by an animated music video, the rockabilly icon’s version of “Girl on the Billboard” is a souped up, tremolo-laden cover of country singer Del Reeves’ chart-topping 1965 hit.

“It’s an old truckers song,” said Setzer. “At first I wasn’t getting the sound I wanted until I picked up my Gretsch 1957 Duo Jet 6131 Fire Bird. I mean, the sound is monstrous, dirty and twangy.”

An oft-overlooked vintage axe, the Gretsch Jet Fire Bird was a guitar of choice for rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley who famously appeared with the model on album covers.

Featuring a pair of DeArmond Model 2000 pickups (referred to in Gretsch literature as Dynasonics), the original Gretsch Jet electrics have a quintessential rock and roll tone that will take you right back to the ‘50s, especially when fitted with flatwound strings.

Gene Vincent guitarist Cliff Gallup was also an early proponent of the original Gretsch Jet design that debuted in 1953 with the Duo Jet. Appearing alongside the black-finish Duo Jet and sparkle-finish Silver Jet, the Jet Fire Bird was released in ’55 and is essentially the same design, albeit with a red finish.

Brian Setzer 'The Devil Always Collects' album artwork

Brian Setzer's The Devil Always Collects is out on September 15 via Surfdog. (Image credit: Surfdog Records)

Early rock and roll fans Jeff Beck and George Harrison were similarly smitten with DeArmond Model 2000-fitted Jets, while Malcolm Young and PJ Harvey both played Filter’Tron-equipped double-cutaway ‘60s models.

Produced by Setzer and Julian Raymond, The Devil Always Collects features a rootsy rock sound with a “contemporary freshness that unites fans of rock, Americana, rockabilly, and punk.”

Days after the album’s release on September 15, Setzer is due to head out on tour. Celebrating his first set of live shows in over four years, the Rockabilly Riot tour will begin on September 27.

“I’ve had a pretty long break, and I needed it,” revealed the guitarist. “I’m renewed and really want to play live again. I want to just get out on the road with this kick-ass little three-piece band and start playing.

“I think fans can always expect that I’m going to play the hits. I also want to play some solo guitar and little things I’ve worked out by myself. I’ve never really gotten to do that, so it's going to be something new.”

Visit the Brian Setzer website for more information and tickets.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.