Music History Monday: March 17

Posted by Jeff Harris, March 17, 2014 09:30am | Post a Comment

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Born on this day: March 17, 1919 - Jazz and pop music icon Nat King Cole (born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, AL). Happy Birthday to this musical giant on what would have been his 95th Birthday. We'll always love you, Nat!

On this day in music history: March 17, 1958 - "Tequila" by The Champs hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for five weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for four weeks on March 31, 1958. Written by Danny Flores (credited to the pseudonym "Chuck Rio" on the record), it is the biggest hit for the instrumental quintet from Los Angeles. The song is result of an in-studio jam at the end of a recording session, inspired by a recent trip that musician Danny Flores takes to Tijuana, Mexico. Because he is signed to another record label at the time, Flores will use the name "Chuck Rio" to mask his real identity. Originally released on actor and country music star Gene Autry's Challenge record label in January 1958 as the B-side of "Train To Nowhere" to minimal response, a DJ in Cleveland begins playing "Tequila" instead and changes history. Entering the Billboard Best Sellers chart on March 3, 1958 at #23, it jumps to #12 , and then pole vaults right to number one the following week.  The single will also win the first Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording in 1959. "Tequila" will have a very long life after The Champs have faded from the charts. "Tequila" will be covered many times over the years by numerous artists, with the original recording being featured in many films including Pee Wee's Big Adventure, The Sandlot, and Cheech & Chong's Next Movie as well as television shows such as Happy Days. "Tequila" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001.

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