Slim Jim Phantom

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Slim Jim Phantom
Slim Jim Phantom – Australia and New Zealand tour (2006)
Slim Jim Phantom – Australia and New Zealand tour (2006)
Background information
Birth nameJames McDonnell
Also known asSlim Jim Phantom
Born (1961-03-20) March 20, 1961 (age 63)[1]
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Drums
  • vocals
Years active1979–present
Spouse(s)Britt Ekland (1984–1992)[2] Jennie Vee (2020–present)[3]

James McDonnell (born March 20, 1961), known by the stage name Slim Jim Phantom, is an American musician, best known as the drummer for the band Stray Cats.[4] Alongside bandmates Brian Setzer and Lee Rocker, he is considered a pioneer of the neo-rockabilly movement of the early 1980s.

Phantom currently plays in the band Kat Men with former Imelda May guitarist Darrel Higham and is the host of the weekly radio show "Rockabilly Rave-up" on the satellite radio station Underground Garage.


Born in Brooklyn and raised in Massapequa, New York, Phantom grew up listening to his parents' jazz and rock records and began playing drums by the age of ten.[5] He took lessons with Mousie Alexander, who played with Benny Goodman, studying jazz and working through books by Jim Chapin and Ted Reed. Phantom has stated that discovering Elvis Presley's recordings from the Sun Records studio sessions was when he "felt that rock and roll changed my life."[5]

Phantom drumming on a two-piece kit while standing

By the late 1970s, Phantom was playing in bands with his childhood friend, bassist Lee Rocker. They soon joined forces with guitarist Brian Setzer to form Stray Cats.[6] When performing with Stray Cats, Phantom did not sit behind a standard drum kit like most drummers, but instead opted to play in a standing position with a minimalist set-up of bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, and crash cymbal.

During downtime from Stray Cats, Phantom played in swing, rockabilly, and jump blues combo Swing Cats with Rocker and ex-Polecats guitarist Danny B. Harvey,[7] as well as rockabilly and glam rock project Phantom, Rocker & Slick with Rocker and guitarist Earl Slick.[8] In 1985, he appeared with Carl Perkins and a host of other musicians including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Dave Edmunds and Rosanne Cash for Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session in London, England. Phantom also played with Jerry Lee Lewis.[9]

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Phantom formed the rockabilly supergroup The Head Cat with Danny B. Harvey and Motörhead vocalist and bassist Lemmy,[10] the eponymous roots-rock band Slim Jim's Phantom Trio,[11] the rock band Col. Parker with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke,[12] and joined the rock and roll supergroup Dead Men Walking with Kirk Brandon, Mike Peters and Captain Sensible.[13] Phantom also hosts the "Rockabilly Rave-up show" on Little Steven's Underground Garage.

In 2021, Phantom formed a rockabilly band with Jimmy Barnes and Chris Cheney.[14] In March 2023, Barnes announced the supergroup The Barnestormers, featuring Barnes, Cheney, Phantom with Jools Holland and Kevin Shirley. A self-titled album was released on 26 May 2023.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Phantom was married to Swedish actress Britt Ekland from 1984 to 1992 and has a son, T.J. (born 1988), with her.[16] As of 2020, he is married to musician and solo artist Jennie Vee.[17]


With Stray Cats[edit]

With Swing Cats[edit]

  • Swing Cats (1999)
  • A Special Tribute to Elvis (2000)
  • Swing Cat Stomp (2000)
  • A Rock'A-Billy Christmas (2002)

With The Head Cat[edit]

With Col Parker[edit]

  • Rock N Roll Music (2001)

With 13 Cats[edit]

  • In the Beginning (2002)
  • 13 Tracks (2003)
  • In the Beginning 2 (2004)

With Dead Men Walking[edit]

  • Live at Leeds (2003)
  • Live at Darwen (2004)
  • Live at CBGB's New York City (2005)
  • Graveyard Smashes Volume 1 (2006)

With Kat Men[edit]

  • Kat Men (2006)
  • The Kat Men Cometh (2013)

With The Barnestormers[edit]


  1. ^ "Official Web Site". Slim Jim Phantom. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Wightwick, Abbie (May 7, 2010). "Peter Sellers, Rod Stewart and me, Britt Ekland bares all". Wales Online. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  3. ^ Vee, Jennie. "Official Web Site".
  4. ^ Huey, Steve "Stray Cats Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 2010-11-21
  5. ^ a b Antonio, John Michael (September 16, 2020). "INTERVIEW: Slim Jim Phantom Talks About His Musical Influences, Elvis, And The Origins Of The Stray Cats - Americana Highways". Americana Highways. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  6. ^ Huey, Steve. Stray Cats at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  7. ^ Huey, Steve. The Swing Cats at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  8. ^ Demalon, Tom. Phantom, Rocker & Slick at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  9. ^ Crawford, Robert (December 19, 2016). "Hear Slim Jim Phantom, Chris Shiflett talk Stray Cats, Jagger's coke". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Deming, Mark. The Head Cat at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  11. ^ Mather, Shaun (2004). "Slim Jim Phantom". Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Bob Timmers. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  12. ^ Prato, Greg. Col. Parker at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  13. ^ Dead Men Walking at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Barnesy starts a new band". PerthNow. January 21, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "The Barnestormers Reveal Debut Album Details". Noise11. March 10, 2023. Retrieved March 10, 2023.
  16. ^ Iley, Chrissy (September 22, 2013). "Britt Ekland on nudity, Alzheimer's, and being 'abducted' by Peter Sellers—interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  17. ^ Fuoco-Karasinski, Christina (October 22, 2020). "The Stray Cats recall 'Rockin' This Town'". Pasadena Weekly. Phantom was going to accompany his wife, Eagles of Death Metal bassist Jennie Vee, on her Australian tour.

External links[edit]