The Man Who Made “Tequila!” Famous Dies

It's with a heavy heart that TMT is finally coming to terms with the death of Danny Flores... AKA "Chuck Rio", raunchy saxophone blower, one of the "Godfathers of latino rock," and of course the man who shouts "Tequila!" in the song of the same name. Flores died September 19 in Huntington Beach, California of pneumonia. He had been also been suffering with Parkinson's Disease for years.

There are few great tunes out there that actually warrant pulling out the rarely-used air-sax from the safety of its air-sax travel case to let wail, but "Tequila!" is positively one of them. "Tequila!" topped the Billboard charts for five weeks back in 1958 after it was rush-recorded and released as a B-side to the song everyone loves: "Train to Nowhere" (nah, I don't know it either). Flores (performing as "Chuck Rio"), along with other session musicians and rockabilly singer Dave Burgess, formed The Champs in 1957, and although later lineups included Glen Campbell, (Jimmy) Seals and (Dash) Croft, "Tequila!" is the sole claim-to-fame for the band.

Being branded as a one-hit-wonder can turn artists maniacal and suicidal, but this fact never seemed to piss off the composer of "Tequila!" Sharee, Flores' wife of 33 years, said at the time of his death, "I can honestly tell you he never got tired of playing that song." Although "Tequila!" was the little heifer that grew up to be a cash cow, Flores actually sold his rights to the song back in the '60s. While he did garner royalties from European plays and sales, he didn't get to rake in the millions the song generated over the years in the U.S., particularly after a certain Mr. Paul Reubens decided to feature the track prominently in a memorable scene from his Big Adventure film in 1985.

Flores toured the world and played his "dirty sax" (an instrument I have been trying to get my girlfriend to play much more of lately...) for years around the Vegas and Atlantic City casino circuits and kept the music career alive off the back of that one hit. Some don't get that much and most don't get half the joy that Flores did. And when you add in the fact that Flores died safe in the knowledge that someone, somewhere right now is teetering on top of a bar trying to upstage a stripper by doing a half-assed Peewee Herman dance to the song, being a one-hit-wonder isn't the death card deal that most would have you believe.

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