Chris Montez

Gary: “While traveling to Arizona, for a little golf and vacation, I heard a song on Sirius Radio that I had not heard for a long time.  The Song, “Some Kinda Fun” the Artist, Chris Montez.    He was born in Los Angeles in 1943, basically was considered a Mexican/American singer, but he was heavily influenced by Ricardo Valenzuela or “Ritchie Valens”.  He has been very influential in presenting the Mexican or Latino music and Pop/Rock over his career.

Chris with Kathy Young

Chris Montez

Videos:
Let’s Dance/1973/with Fumble/
.
Oh Donna/2003/Hurricane Heroes/
.
The More I see You/Belgium 1992/
.
Some Kinda Fun/England 1992/
.
Call Me/1966/
1.  They Say / Somebody Loves You / Guaranteed 217 / 1961
.
2.  Let’s Dance/Monogram 505/September 1962/#4
.
3. Some Kinda Fun/ Monogram 507/January 1963/ #43
.
4. Call Me/ A&M 780/ February 1966/ #22
.
5.  The More I See You/ A&M  796/ May 1966/ #16
.
6.  There Will Never Be Another You/ A&M 810/ September 1966/ #33
.
7.  Time After Time/ A&M 822/ December 1966/ #36
.
8.  Oh Donna (live) 2003; his idol was Ritchie Valens
In 1982 a Toronto Punk Band, named Teenage Head covered, successfully, Chris Montez’s 1963 hit, Some Kinda Fun
Video:  Teenage Head/ Some Kinda Fun
.

Early life

Born Ezekiel Christopher Montanez on 17 January 1943, Montez grew up in Hawthorne, California, influenced by the Latino flavored music of his community and the success of Ritchie Valens.

In 1962, he recorded the single, “Let’s Dance” on Monogram Records. It went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. and to #2 on the UK Singles Chart.

Although Montez toured with big names such as Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke, The Platters, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, there would be no more hits for him until four years later. This even despite The Beatles opening a London concert for him while performing with Tommy Roe.

Chris with Tommy Roe and The Beatles

It was once rumored that John Lennon started a fight with Montez at a London bar and poured a beer over his head.

1966 comeback

Montez returned to the recording studio in 1965, this time at A&M Records. He was searching for the same rock and roll formula that would replicate the success of “Let’s Dance“.

During a recording session, A&M co-founder Herb Alpert suggested that Chris try a different approach: a middle of the road, soft ballad sound. Though reluctant at first, he agreed to go along with his mentor’s suggestion.

Working with Herb Alpert as the co-producer, Chris put out his first A&M album in 1966 called The More I See You.

Call Me” (a Tony Hatch composition) was the first single released from this album. It charted to #22.

In May of 1966, the title song from the album, “The More I See You” was released. Chris sung in a soft, very high tenor range and the song was played on primarily adult-formatted radio stations.

This new voice confused some disc jockeys, who were unfamiliar with Montez’s previous work. When announcing the song, they would often refer to Chris  as a female.

But by the time the album itself was released, Montez’ pictures on the front and back of the jacket cleared up any mystery surrounding his gender, as explained in the album’s notes on the back of the record jacket.

This first A&M album, The More I See You, yielded three Top 40 singles for Montez: the title cut, plus “Call Me” and “There Will Never Be Another You“.

Later years

Montez recorded three more albums for A&MTime After TimeFoolin’ Around, and Watch What Happens. None of these albums mirrored the success of The More I See You. The title cut “Time After Time“, did reach #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, but no other singles made the top 40.

Subsequent singles hit below the top 40, or only on the Billboard Easy Listening Top 40. Following the release of Watch What Happens album in 1968, Montez left A&M Records.

In November 1972, Montez charted a Latin hit in Brazil: “Loco por ti (Crazy About You)“.

Montez resurfaced in 1974, this time at CBS Records, with the release of a new LP, The Best of Chris Montez, a mix of both old and new recordings.

Montez recorded one more album for CBSRaza: Ay No Digas, which did well internationally, but failed to make an impact in the U.S.

His final album, with exclusively Spanish-language material, was Cartas de Amor, released on the independent label AYM in 1983.

Montez today

Most of his American appearances in 2007 were in Branson, Missouri. In July, 2008, Frozen Pictures announced plans to produce a documentary musical film on Montez’s life and career.

‘Chris Montez is an incredibly influential musician whose life and music have touched on every major thread in Rock ‘n’ Roll, from Latino Rock to R&B, Sixties pop to Lounge, Surf to Punk,’ said Burt Kearns, who writes, produces or directs all of Frozen‘s projects with Brett Hudson. ‘His story is epic.’

As of 2009, Chris Montez continues to perform throughout the U.S. and Internationally.

–o–

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4 responses to “Chris Montez

  1. Not to be overlooked is Chris Montez’s first record, “They Say” (Guaranteed 217) 1961. Probably his best, and sounding a whole lot like Ritchie Valens.
    -Andy.

    • Hi Andy – You’re right about “They Say” and it does sound a lot like Richie Valens’ “Oh Donna”. We have inserted it at the top of the list, as Chris’ first recording. Thanks for that information!

  2. Pingback: Looking Back! 1962 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  3. Pingback: Two songs: Hang On Sloopy & Let’s Dance | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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