Chris Montez has forged an incredible and incredibly influential journey through modern pop music, from rock ‘n’ roll to lounge, Latin pop to jazz. Artists as diverse as Sam Cooke, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Ramones have worked with, played with or taken a cue from the Mexican-American kid from Hawthorne, California who went to school with The Beach Boys and was still a teen when was hailed as the successor to his hero, Ritchie Valens.
Now, for the first time,
his story is told!
He was born Ezekiel Montanez.
He was a teenager when he recorded his first international hit, “Let’s Dance.”
The song took him to the top of the charts and, at the height of the Civil Rights struggle, on tour through the Deep South with Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and Clyde McPhatter. He’d play a major role in The Beatles story, headlining a UK tour with the group amid the first stirrings of Beatlemania– and brawling with John Lennon in an incident that became rock ‘n’ roll legend.
This period alone would guarantee Chris Montez a place in musical history, but he had yet to undergo an unprecedented transformation with a new style, new look and new hits with Herb Alpert and A&M Records. With songs like “Call Me” and “The More I See You,” Chris Montez was reinvented as a smooth innovator of the lounge sound: samba-based, jazz-influenced standards that kept the flavour of his Latin roots and set the stage for his later transition into one of the first international Latin pop stars.
In the years to follow, his hit songs would be covered by artists including Frank Sinatra and The Ramones. They’d earn a place in movie history in films like Frantic and, most memorably, Animal House, while Chris Montez remained a vital force, bringing his music to longtime fans and new audiences around the world, from Japan to Europe to the American heartland. Today, he continues to expand his horizons and blaze new trails in other musical genres, including ranchero, jazz and the blues.