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The Champs

John Laughter

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468
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Macon,GA
The Champs
Chuck Rio was born Danny Flores in Santa Paula, California. His parents migrated from Mexico in the 1920s. “Little” Danny Flores was playing guitar in church at age five and was singing and playing with a Mexican trio by age fourteen. In the late 1940s he moved to Long Beach and formed a group called the 3-D Ranch Boys. They played local bars at night and were in great demand as studio musicians.

In 1957 Flores teamed up with guitarist Dave Burgess, head of A&R and the first artist signed to Gene Autry’s Challenge label. They recorded “Train To Nowhere” and used Flores’s band to record it. They needed a “B” side of the record so they used a song that Danny wrote. They didn’t have a title for the song yet, but everybody knew that Flores drank a lot of tequila and one of the musicians said, “Call it Tequila,” so they did. Flores also introduced a technique to a new generation of sax players when he added the “flutter tongue” to the melody.

The studio band consisted of Flores, Gene Alden (drummer), Buddy Bruce (guitar), Cliff Hills (bass) and Dave Burgess (guitar).

Challenge told Flores that he would have to change his name because he was signed to Modern Record Company as a vocalist under his real name Danny Flores. So he took his mother’s middle name (Carlos) and his father’s middle name (Del Rio), and Challenge signed him up as an instrumentalist. However, as soon as “Tequila” was released, Modern went after Rio. He said one word on the record—“Tequila!”—and they said that was vocalizing! The touring band was named the Champs, after Gene Autry’s horse, Champion.

“Tequila” is a timeless classic and has become an international standard. In 1957, “Tequila” received the first Grammy Award ever awarded for the best R&B category.

Chuck Rio, age 77, passed away on September 19, 2006 of pneumonia in Westminster, Calif and resided in Orange County, California, and continued to perform with his wife Sharee, who is also a singer and musician.

Chuck’s appearances include the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, Angel Stadium, Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, American Bandstand, Ed Sullivan Show, Dick Clark Show, and the Al Jarvis Show. “Tequila” has been used in movies such as Pepe, Overboard, Peggy Sue Got Married, Ninja Turtles, The Freshman, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and many radio commercials.

(2006—I spoke with Danny’s wife several times this year. According to Sharee, Danny had Alzheimer’s disease. He was no longer able to perform but really appreciated his “fans” staying in touch.)

Discography:

1998 The Tequila Man—Ace

Other members of the band included:
Buddy Bruce —“Tequila” lead guitar.
Dave Burgess — “Tequila” rhythm guitar — Lancaster, California.
Dale Norris — lead guitar — Springfield, Mississippi.
Cliff Hills — “Tequila” upright bass.
Chuck Rio — “Tequila” sax — Rankin, Texas — replaced by Jimmy Seals eight months after “Tequila” was recorded.
“Van” Norman — upright bass — replaced by Bobby Morris — Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Gene Alden “Tequila”— drums — Cisco, Texas — replaced by Dash Crofts.

#1 (March 1958) TEQUILA—CHAMPS - CHUCK RIO - TENOR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8hRcNNGRlY

#30 (June 1958) EL RANCHO ROCK—CHAMPS - CHUCK RIO - TENOR

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifJS3LJ5gS0


#30 (February 1960) TOO MUCH TEQUILA—CHAMPS - JIMMY SEALS – TENOR

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View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSCwUZgi3kI


#40 (July 1962) LIMBO ROCK—CHAMPS - JIMMY SEALS - TENOR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY3jTM90d-8

Lineup for 1958: Van Norman, Jimmy Seals, Dean Beard, Dash Crofts, Dave Burgess, Dale Norris.

Lineup in late 1959: Bob Morris, Dash Crofts, Glen Campbell, Jerry Cole, Jimmy Seals.

The Champs continued to record many records through 1966 but they failed to chart in the Top 40 hits. "Tequila" hit the charts once again in 1987 at #82 as a result of "Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Soundtrack)".
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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3,801
Locality
brighton by the sea
Got to play Beatnik by the Champs for the first time in many years the other night.. I'd forgotten what a fun tune it is..
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
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4,794
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Sweden
Did The Champ play "Beatnik (Fly)" ? Johnny and the Hurricanes also played "Beatnik Fly."
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,794
Locality
Sweden
Thanks. Never heard that song before. It's good. Chuck Rio (Danny Flores) or Jimmy Seals on sax?
 

John Laughter

Member
Messages
468
Locality
Macon,GA
Danny Flores left the band in June of 1958, the same year the song was recorded and Jimmy Seals joined in 1958. He stayed until 1964. Jimmy was recording with the new lineup by July 1958. I can’t locate a credit of the “Beatnik” sax player.
 
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