1959 - "THE YEAR THE MUSIC DIED?"...
The year 1958 saw a dramatic increase in rock and roll instrumental combos. The biggest selling instrumental of '57 was "Raunchy" by it's co-composer Bill Justis. By the end of 1959, there was "Sleep Walk" by Santo and Johnny, a string of hits by Johnny and the Hurricanes, ("Red River Rock") Dave "Baby" Cortez and "The Happy Organ", the legendary twanguitarist, Duane Eddy, The Fireballs, a Tex-Mex group ("Torquay", "Bulldog", "Sugar Shack", "Bottle o' Wine"), the Virtues, the Wailers, Link Wray and His Ray Men (Rumble), the Royaltones, the Rock-A-Teens, Sandy Nelson ("Let There Be Drums", Cozy Cole (Topsy Part I & II), and Preston Epps.("Bongo Rock") - and, of course, in 1959, The Champs hit with "Tequila"...
"GOD OF TWANG"
Every non-rock hit, such as Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song", was heralded by the "Big Band" die-hards as the next big trend in pop music - or, at least, a sign of the weakening of the market for rock, the commercial nemesis of not only jazz musicians, but pop crooners, country and bluegrass recording artists. Even rock afficianadoes wondered if the well had begun to run dry, as instrumentals displaced rock vocals on the charts.
There was ample cause for concern, as I recall. In 1959 I was 17 and exploring rockabilly & rhythm & blues with two or three other guys in my parent's basement. "Dino & The Detours" was born during this period of transition in the fledgling rock industry. I was Dino.
GENE VINCENT WAS THE FUTURE OF ROCK 'N' ROLL!
I wasn't the only one who wondered if there was some sort of conspiracy to kill rock 'n' roll. In the preceding years, 1954-'57, we had seen the outcry in the media by squares of our parents' generation who characterized our music as everything from "degenerate" to "jungle music". During the years 1958 through 1961, Chuck Willis O.D.'d; The Platters were arrested following an underage sex-sting in Cincinnati; Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash; Eddie Cochran died in a car wreck; Gene Vincent was crippled in a car crash; Elvis got drafted; Chuck Berry got busted for violatin' the Mann Act (transportin' an underage chick across state lines for immoral purposes); and Little Richard hung up his rock 'n' roll shoes to become a Pentecostal preacher.
It didn't end there. later, Johnny Burnette died in a car wreck and Sam Cooke got blown away in a motel.
The WORST thing that happened to our vital new music was the ascendance of the vapid, insipid, wholesome, white-bread, all American DJ Dick Clark.
"America's Oldest Teenager" established himself as the arbiter of what would be considered "hip" ("It's got a good beat, I give it a 9!") well into the mid-'60s and the advent of The British Invasion, along with the rise of the Stax-Volt and Atlantic Records Memphis Soul phenomenon.
Dick Clark not only owned and promoted his own stable of homogenized teen-oriented, bubble-gum artists, he controlled a large segment of the top-40 market, as airplay trends followed the records he "broke-out" on his influential American Band Stand TV dance hop. Clark was responsible more than anyone for the dominance of bland pop product leading up to the British Invasion.
"FRANKIE AVALON - ONE OF CLARK'S ADENOIDAL ADOLESCENTS
Dick Clark was implicated in the "Payola" shake-up that destroyed such seminal figures as Alan Freed - but the Dickster with the Brylcreem-slicked haircut and the sparkling Ipana toothpaste smile - managed to keep anything from sticking to him. But really - what - other than "pay-to-play" might account for the dominance on the charts of such mediocre talents as Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker, Freddie "Boom-Boom" Cannon, and no-talent simpleton "Fabian"?
Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Berry Gordy was layin' down tracks that would soon become part of the historical body of work known as the "Motown Sound". Rock hadn't died. It had been anesthetized during the years of Dick Clark's Top-40 hit hegemony.
Danny Flores, who played tenor sax with The Champs and shouted the word "Tequila!" in the 1957 hit instrumental "Tequila!", has died. He was 77.
The Champs Original touring lineup with (l - r) Joe Burnas, Dave Burgess, Gene Alden, *Chuck Rio/Daniel Flores* and Dale Norris.
Danny Flores toured with various ensembles, never tiring of playing "Tequila" for 40 years. At the time "Tequila" was recorded, he was using the stage name "Chuck Rio"...
Photo: The Champs - minus Flores - in '59: Dash Crofts played drums. In this photo, the personnel, left to right: Dash Crofts, Bob Morris, Dave Burgess, Jimmy Seals on sax, Johnny Meeks.
The Champs were not a band 'til "Tequila" (the B-Side) hit big. They were a group of studio musicians
pulled together by songwriter-lead guitarist Dave Burgess who recorded as Dave Dupree. The group
faced personal changes through the years, including a brief membership
by guitarist/vocalist Delaney Bramlett (later of Delaney and Bonnie),
before disbanding in 1965. Some other ex-Champs, Glen Campbell (played rhythm guitar (not lead) on a few tracks in '59), Jimmy
Seals and Dash Crofts (AKA, The Jimmy Seals Orchestra). BTW, the label,
Challenge Records, was owned by Gene Autry, who managed The Champs for their tenure with Challenge!
Seals & Croft played on Atlantic recordings with Dean Beard, a rockabilly piano player. I have an old 45 of Rakin' & A-scrapin' b/w I've Got You On My Mind Again - a decent R& B ballad I used to sing in clubs. Seals provided 100% enthusiasm and 75% technique on his sax playing, but only about 60% on tone on the Beard sides.
DEAN BEARD, 1936-1989