Slim Jim Phantom has secured his place as a true rock-n-roll icon. As the legendary drummer for the Stray Cats, Phantom, alongside bandmates Brian Setzer and Lee Rocker, spearheaded the neo-rockabilly movement of the early 80s. With a love for 50's Rock and Roll, the Stray Cats took inspiration from that bygone era and mixed with their youthful energy and aggression to produce the updated hard-edged rockabilly sound that saw them conquer London, Europe and later the U.S., gaining fans among the likes of Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Robert Plant along the way.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jim grew up listening to his parents' jazz records and, by the age of ten, took up the drums. He immersed himself in the art of drumming and the world of music and took lessons with Mousie Alexander (who played with Benny Goodman), which included the study of jazz and working through books by Jim Chapin and Ted Reed.
By the late 70's Jim was playing in bands with his school friend and bassist Lee Rocker and then joined forces with guitarist Brian Setzer. The rest, as they say, is history. The Stray Cats had numerous hit singles in the early 1980s, their classic album Built for Speed went double platinum, and their song "Rock This Town" was cemented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."
In the Summer of 2008, Jim and the Stray Cats reunited for an extensive tour of Europe. In February of 2009, the band headed to Australia and New Zealand for the first time in 18 years - a tour eagerly anticipated by Australasian fans.
In addition to the Stray Cats, Jim has worked with some of the world's top artists. He has played a part in many successful groups – notably Phantom, Rocker and Slick (featuring long time David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick) which produced two popular albums; and Dead Men Walking, an all-star affair which has boasted original members of The Sex Pistols, The Cult and Big Country among the rotating line-up. Jim also enjoyed a stint playing with the rock-n-roll originator, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even performed in a now-mythological band called The Cheap Dates with acting legend Harry Dean Stanton, one of Jim's longtime pals.
Jim has worked on numerous other projects, including his own explosive self-named roots-rock trio, and HeadCat, co-starring Lemmy Kilmister and Danny B. Harvey. In addition, 2009 marked the launch of Slim Jim's musical project The Jack Tars, a band co-founded with old friends, and former Dead Men Walking bandmates Captain Sensible and Mike Peters and SJP's long time true rockabilly pal Chris Cheney of Australia's top rockin' band The Living End. They plan on making new music and setting sail again in the near future. The supergroup currently includes longtime collaborators, new members Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses, and a longtime fan and fellow Long Islander Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia. They did a few legendary shows at LA's famed venue, The Troubadour. They plan on recording and playing more shows down the line.
In the past several years, Slim Jim has continued to work with diverse friends and true artists, including Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and Earl Slick. He's also partnered with British guitar ace Darrel Higham under the band name Katmen; the pair released a critically acclaimed rockabilly record on Decca records, toured extensively, and appeared on the British TV show Later … with Jools Holland.
Jim is deeply committed to charitable works, too: he climbed both Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro for Love Hope Strength Foundation (an organization co-founded by Mike Peters of The Alarm that benefits cancer research) with fellow rockers Peters, Robin Wilson from the Gin Blossoms, Cy Curnin from The Fixx and Glenn Tillbrook from Squeeze. The treks were filmed for a National Geographic documentary shown on the National Geographic Channel and VH1. In December 2014, he attended the World Cancer Congress in Melbourne, Australia, with the Love Hope Strength group to promote cancer research, spreading the word with music and wisecracks.
In 2018, The Stray Cats reunited for a select number of shows. After the overwhelming success of these shows, the band decided to keep going. 2019 marked the band's 40th anniversary, which they celebrated with a new album and world tour. The album 40, reached #3 on the Billboard charts and top 10 worldwide. They followed up the album with a sold-out world tour, culminating with a landmark show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, California. The Cats plan on continuing their 'Rockabilly Crusade' for another 40 years. Their special guest on the night of the Greek Theater, The Eagles of Death Metal, features his wife, Jennie Vee. Jim and Jennie met at The World Famous Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, making them a true Rock and Roll couple. This monumental event cemented SJP's connection to the Strip, where he owned and operated an almost mythical rock bar/music venue called The Cat Club, which he owned for fourteen years. Jim and Jennie got married in 2020. They collaborate and make guest appearances on each other's recordings, and Jennie is a permanent member of The Slim Jim Phantom Trio. Both Jim and Jennie have new music releasing soon.
As of 2020, Jim hosts Rockabilly Rave Up on Little Steven's Underground Garage on SiriusXM. He is known as "The Honest Mechanic," where he features new rockabilly acts and the classics. He shares his unique spin on how Rock and Roll have shaped pop culture in the world. As well as his duties on UG, Jim also hosts Slim Jim Phantasy on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he shares his other passion, baseball, and fantasy sports in general.
Over 40 years and millions of record sales later, Slim Jim Phantom continues to inspire and excite audiences worldwide. With a sound, style, and image that remain as fresh today as they ever were, Phantom has cemented his place among rock royalty. Considered by many as the coolest drummer in rock-n-roll, Phantom's influence is still clearly felt on today's music scene with countless rockabilly drummers imitating his pioneering stand-up style.