In November 1957, THE CHAMPS released the single “Train to Nowhere,” which as the title implied, made no impact. But DJs loved the B-side, a saxy tune called TEQUILA. Two months later it had entered the US Billboard Chart and was onits way to No.1 (Jan 1958)
NOTE: The video here is The Champs performance of Tequila on the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show in 1958. I’ve upscaled and colourised the original black and white film.
The Champs were a Los Angeles group that named themselves after Gene Autry’s horse, Champion.
Originally released as the B-side of their debut single “Train to Nowhere” in December 1957, Disc jockeys flipped the single and played “Tequila” instead.
In March 1958, it went to #1 in America, where it stayed for five weeks, making the song one of the biggest hits of the ’50s.
Danny Flores, who was the saxophone player in The Champs, wrote this song (it’s credited to his pen name, Chuck Rio).
Flores had the melody kicking around for a while, and would play it as an interlude during the group’s club shows.
He was a tequila drinker, so when the band decided to record his melody as a B-side, he named it “Tequila” and added the spoken title, which he voiced.
The “Tequila” part of the song was simply an attempt to cover up the holes in the song. After all, it was just the B-side.
The Champs had a few more modest instrumental hits, including the follow-up, “El Rancho Rock,” which reached #30 in the US, but never came close to the success of “Tequila.”
Later members of the group included Glen Campbell, Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts (Seals & Crofts of ’70s fame).
The group released more Tequila-related songs, including “Too Much Tequila” and “Tequila Twist.”