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Sunday, August 04, 2013


The Soundtrack of Summer continues with another summer favourite, courtesy of a band whose popularity peaked in the late 1950's.  And we'll get to that in just a few moments.

For now though, let's talk summer beverages, shall we?

With the temperatures on any given summer day being eighty degrees or higher, it is very important that people try to beat the heat at all possible costs.  Believe me, I have suffered from the effects of severe dehydration before.  It ain't pretty.

Obviously, the beverage of choice that most people should automatically reach for is a nice tall glass of ice water.  Water is the most refreshing beverage to have on a nice, hot day, and it is very important to stay hydrated, as the sticky, summer weather can make you sweat...and not necessarily in a C&C Music Factory kind of way either.

Of course, that's assuming that you want your cold drink to be non-alcoholic.

I mean, let's face it.  Summer is the ideal period to get your drink on, and provided that one is the age of legality (19 in Canada, 21 in the United States), one can indulge in a variety of coolers, spirits, and cocktails to beat the heat.  Margaritas, Pina Coladas, Strawberry Daiquiris, or just an ice cold beer are among some of the most popular alcoholic drinks to sip on during the most social of summer parties.  Even I've been known to down a couple of Mooseheads on occasion whenever I am able to attend a summer themed bash.

(Oh yeah...just in case some of you are wondering what a Moosehead is, it's a brand of Canadian beer.  A very tasty beer at that, in my own humble opinion.)

And to be fair, even though I'm typically not the kind of person whose sole mission in life is to get as drunk as possible (I got all that out of my system by my 22nd birthday), I have at least sampled a few alcoholic cocktails and drinks over the years.  Margaritas can be good, depending on how they are mixed.  Same deal with Pina Coladas.  A "Fuzzy Navel" is good, as is a "Grasshopper", but NEVER mix the two together.  You will throw up.  Repeatedly and often.  Trust me on that one.

However, there is one alcoholic beverage that I have not yet tried.  And given the reputation this drink has had, it's one that kind of intimidates me.  Why this is a drink that causes women's clothes to fall off, and one that a has-been reality starlet has used for her namesake.  It's also a drink that if abused can make even the most rational thinking person wake up the next morning with an unknown person sleeping in bed beside them and a gigantic tattoo stitched across their entire back.

I am, of course, talking about Tequila.

Tequila is the Mexican-produced beverage that could be considered one of the most potent of all the alcoholic beverages, with some varieties having as much as a 55% alcohol content.  And let's put it this way.  Anyone I ever knew who decided to add a little bit of tequila to their binge drinking plans usually ended up regretting it the next day.  I think that might be the main reason why I am a little reluctant to even take a sip of the "forbidden beverage" even though everyone I know says that it's wonderful.

Now, that being said, there is one "Tequila" that I did appreciate and enjoy.  And, as it so happens, that's the subject of today's Sunday Jukebox!

ARTIST:  The Champs
SONG:  Tequila
ALBUM:  N/A (was released as a single)
DATE RELEASED:  January 15, 1958

It seems hard to believe that "Tequila" is fifty-five years old!  I suppose that it doesn't seem that way because of the fact that the song has been played at nearly every summer gathering that I have ever attended in my lifetime.  It's a classic that like blue jeans and baseball caps don't seem to be going away any time soon.

The story behind the release of "Tequila" dates back to the year 1957, when Challenge Records (a label owned by Gene Autry) signed a singer-songwriter named Dave Burgess to the label.  Dave Burgess specialized in a fairly new genre of music known as "Rockabilly", and prior to being signed by Challenge Records could be heard recording under the name of Dave Dupree.  However, by the end of the year, there were still no major chart-toppers by the record label, prompting executives to assign Dupree the task of organizing a recording session to come up with a brand new song that the label hoped would be a success.

To add to the pressure, the date of the recording session was scheduled for December 23, 1957 - two days before Christmas.  Nevertheless, Dave Burgess was at the recording studio armed with his rhythm guitar along with five other musicians.  They were...

Cliff Hills - bass guitar
Danny Flores - saxophone and keyboards
Gene Alden - drums
Buddy Bruce - lead guitarist
Huelyn Duvall - backing vocals

NOTE:  Flores, Alden, and Bruce were already a trio when they were asked to join in on Burgess' recording session, going by the name "The Flores Trio".

And, here's one more point to consider.  The band didn't purposely set out to record "Tequila" that particular day.  They were there instead to record another song entitled "Train to Nowhere".  "Tequila was the final song recorded for the session, which initially started off as a jam session between the members of the Flores Trio.

TRIVIA:  Not only did Danny Flores come up with the iconic saxophone solo that accompanied the largely instrumental hit, but Flores is also the one who says the word "Tequila" thrice during the entire song.  

The single was credited to Danny Flores as the principal songwriter...but because Flores was signed to a competing record label at the time, he was forced to use a pseudonym on the "Tequila" album...Chuck Rio.  In fact, I suppose you could say that the song predates "The Champs", as the band adopted that name just five days after "Tequila" was officially released.  The song took three takes before the group was satisfied with how it turned out, and it was ready in time for the January 1958 release as a B-side to the "Train to Nowhere" single.  

But a funny thing about B-sides.  Sometimes they can be more successful than the song that was initially intended to be the A-single!  Certainly, that was the case with "Tequila", which topped the charts beginning the week of March 28, 1958 - which wouldn't have happened had a Cleveland area DJ not taken a chance and played the B-side on a whim.  

And, certainly, "Tequila" has had its impact in the world of pop culture.  The number of people who have since covered the single is astounding.  Many people have sang their own versions of the song, including Eddie Platt (1958), Dizzy Gillespie (1966), Boots Randolph (1967), Hot Butter (1972), Larry Carlton (1983), and David Sanborn (2003).

And, who could forget the use of the song in several feature films?  Such as 1985's "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure"?

Or in 1990's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"?

Or in 1993's "The Sandlot"?

So, yes.  "Tequila" was, is, and will likely forever be a pop culture phenomenon, and it is now a permanent part of this blog.

But as far as the drink goes...I'll stick with my Moosehead, thanks.

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