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 (1961-03-21) March 21, 1961 (age 61)[1]
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
  • Drummer
  • musician
  • songwriter
  • Drums
  • vocals
Years active1979–present

James McDonnell (born March 21, 1961), known by the stage name Slim Jim Phantom, is the drummer for Stray Cats.[2] Alongside bandmates Brian Setzer and Lee Rocker, he spearheaded the neo-rockabilly movement of the early 1980s.

Phantom currently plays in the band Kat Men with 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 records and began playing drums by the age of ten. He took lessons with Mousie Alexander, who played with Benny Goodman, studying jazz and working through books by Jim Chapin and Ted Reed.

SJP drumming on a two-piece kit while standing

By the late 1970s, he was playing in bands with his childhood friend, bassist Lee Rocker. They soon joined forces with guitarist Brian Setzer to form Stray Cats.[3] 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 The Swing Cats with Rocker and ex-Polecats guitarist Danny B. Harvey,[4] as well as rockabilly and glam rock project Phantom, Rocker & Slick with Rocker and guitarist Earl Slick.[5] Phantom also played with Jerry Lee Lewis.[6]

He later formed Col. Parker with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, releasing the album Rock n Roll Music in 2001.[7]

Most recently, he has been involved in the eponymous roots-rock band Slim Jim's Phantom Trio;[8] rock-and-roll supergroup Dead Men Walking with Kirk Brandon and Mike Peters, and Captain Sensible;[9] and rockabilly supergroup The Head Cat with Danny B. Harvey and the late Motörhead vocalist and bassist Lemmy.[10] He also hosts the Rockabilly Raveup show on Little Steven's Underground Garage.

He was married to actress Britt Ekland from 1984 to 1992 and has a son, T.J. (born 1988), with her.[11] As of 2020, he is married to Jennie Vee, bassist for Eagles of Death Metal.[12]

In 2021, he formed a rockabilly band with Jimmy Barnes and Chris Cheney.[13]



  1. ^ "Official Web Site". Slim Jim Phantom. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Huey, Steve "Stray Cats Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 2010-11-21
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. Stray Cats at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  4. ^ Huey, Steve. The Swing Cats at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  5. ^ Demalon, Tom. Phantom, Rocker & Slick at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  6. ^ Crawford, Robert (December 19, 2016). "Hear Slim Jim Phantom, Chris Shiflett talk Stray Cats, Jagger's coke". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Prato, Greg. Col. Parker at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  8. ^ Mather, Shaun (2004). "Slim Jim Phantom". Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Bob Timmers. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  9. ^ Dead Men Walking at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  10. ^ Deming, Mark. The Head Cat at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  11. ^ Iley, Chrissy (September 22, 2013). "Britt Ekland on nudity, Alzheimer's, and being 'abducted' by Peter Sellers—interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Barnesy starts a new band". PerthNow. January 21, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2021.

External links[edit]