Thursday, October 17, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Champs

Artist:The Champs
Album:Oldies But Goodies Vol. 7

I think most music fans are familiar with the instrumental classic Tequila but probably don't know much about The Champs. Tequila topped the charts in 1958. But The Champs weren't even a band until the song was a hit. The guy behind The Champs was guitarist Dave Burgess. Burgess was on the fringe of the Los Angeles music scene. Singles he recorded for Okeh and Tampa went nowhere. In 1956, he was working as a DJ in Lancaster, CA and writing songs in search of a publishing deal. His songs got him a house session guitarist job with Challenge Records, a new label owned by legendary singing cowboy Gene Autry. After finishing a session, he had studio time remaining and asked the musicians to help him with a B-side for single he planned to release. The key figure was sax player Danny Flores. He came up with the main riff for Tequila and he played sax on the record. He used the name Chuck Rio because he was under contract to a different record company. Tequila was recorded in ten minutes. It was released as a B-side to Train to Nowhere but DJs flipped it over. And before long Tequila topped the Billboard Hot 100 and sold a million copies. It even won a 1959 Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording. But there still wasn't a band. The name The Champs was after Gene Autry's horse Champion. Burgess formed a touring band with Rio and drummer Gene Alden who both played on the record. And they added guitarist Dale Norris and bassist Joe Burnass. They continued to record but never could repeat the success of Tequila. There are Champs comp CDs available. But I think most fans will only want Tequila and you can get it on this edition of the long running Oldies But Goodies series. Among those who were members of later versions of The Champs were Glen Campbell, Delaney Bramlett and Seals & Crofts. Tequila is considered to be an influential song. And Danny Flores is hailed as The Godfather of Latino Rock. Unfortunately, he sold Tequila many years ago and never got the windfall he deserved. Danny Flores died in 2007. Here are The Champs performing Tequila on the Dick Clark Beech-Nut Show May 1959.

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