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The Champs

The Champs
Origin Santa Paula, California, United States
Genres Rock and roll, Chicano rock, Tex-Mex
Years active 1958–1965
Labels Challenge, Apex (Canada), Gold Star Studios

The Champs were an American rock and roll band, most famous for their Latin-tinged instrumental "Tequila". The group was formed by studio executives at Gene Autry's Challenge Records[1] to record a B-side for the Dave Burgess (aka Dave Dupree) single, "Train to Nowhere". The intended throwaway track became more famous than its A-side, as "Tequila" went to No. 1 in just three weeks and the band became the first group to go to the top spot with an instrumental that was their first release.[2] The song was recorded at Gold Star Studios in 1958, and in 1959 won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance.[3] It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[4]

"Tequila!" was written and sung by the saxophone player Danny Flores, although he was credited as Chuck Rio because he was under contract to another record label at the time. Flores, who died in September 2006, was known as the "Godfather of Latino rock."[2] Flores' "dirty sax" and his joyous hollering of "Tequila!" are the hallmarks of the song.[5] Flores signed away the U.S. rights to the song but retained world-wide rights until his death.[6]

There are many cover versions of the tune, including a jazz version by guitarist Wes Montgomery in 1966. It has also been recorded by rappers A.L.T. and XL Singleton. The Champs also had success with instrumentals such as "Limbo Rock" and "La Cucaracha". In 1985 it featured prominently in the film Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

The Champs also recorded a sequel to Tequila entitled "Too Much Tequila".


  • Band members 1
  • Singles 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Band members

Later band members included Glen Campbell, Jerry Cole and Seals and Crofts, Paul C Saenz. The last lineup of the Champs, in 1965, included Johnny Trombore, who co-wrote some songs with Jimmy Seals, Maurice Marshall, Dash Crofts, bassist Curtis Paul and Seal's replacement on saxophone, Keith MacKendrick.


Year Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
1958 "Tequila"
b/w "Train To Nowhere"
1 1 5 Go Champs Go
"El Rancho Rock" / 30 10
"Midnighter" 94
"Chariot Rock"
b/w "Subway"
59 Everybody's Rockin'
b/w "Rockin' Mary"
b/w "Gone Train"
Non-album tracks
1959 "Caramba"
b/w "Moonlight Bay"
"Night Train"
b/w "The Rattler"
"Sky High"
b/w "Double Eagle Rock"
1960 "Too Much Tequila"
b/w "Twenty Thousand Leagues" (Non-album track)
30 49 Great Dance Hits
"The Little Matador"
b/w "Red Eye"
Non-album tracks
"Alley Cat"
b/w "Cocoanut Grove"
"Tough Train"
b/w "The Face"
1961 "Sombrero"
b/w "The Shoddy Shoddy" (from Great Dance Hits)
"Hokey Pokey"
b/w "Jumping Bean" (Non-album track)
Great Dance Hits
1962 "Tequila Twist" / 99
"Limbo Rock" 40
"Experiment In Terror"
b/w "La Cucaracha"
Non-album tracks
"I've Just Seen Her"
b/w "What A Country"
The Champs Play All-American
"Limbo Dance"
b/w "Latin Limbo"
97 Non-album tracks
"That Did It"
b/w "Varsity Rock"
1963 "Nik Nak"
b/w "Shades"
"Mr. Cool"
b/w "3/4 Mash"
"Cactus Juice"
b/w "Roots"
"San Juan"
b/w "Jalisco"
1964 "Only The Young"
b/w "Switzerland"
b/w "Fraternity Waltz"
1965 "Bright Lights, Big City"
b/w "French 75"
1966 "Anna"
b/w "Buckaroo"
1987 "Tequila"
b/w "Pee Wee's Dance" (by Joseki Love)
82 Pee Wee's Big Adventure (Soundtrack)

See also


  1. ^ "THE CHAMPS (1958-1965)". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  2. ^ a b [1]
  3. ^ Unknown. "1st Annual Grammy Awards". Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 98.  
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Pete Larsen. "Danny Flores, 'Tequila' songwriter, dies at 77". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 

External links

  • The Champs at AllMusic
  • "The Champs" on the History of Rock website
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