The Evolution Of Chris Montez

I remember when the news broke about the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy HollyRitchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), along with the pilot. But I didn’t realize at that time how Valens’ death affected the Chicano rock movement.

Valens was the undisputed star of the Hispanic pop music world. When he died it was a sad day for music fans everywhere, but it hit the Southern California area especially hard. However, it might have helped provide an opportunity for new stars, and one of those who rose to popularity was Chris Montez.

Montez began with a harder-edged Chicano style, but even while becoming a local favorite he had started to soften his sound. Still, his first hit — 1962’s “Let’s Dance” (video below) — had a solid rock beat and style.

Off to a good start, Montez continued to perform and cut records, but it wasn’t until he further sweetened his sound under the direction of A&M’s Herb Alpert that he began to again score on the charts. Over the next few years, he had his biggest hits with easygoing songs like “Call Me,” “The More I See You,” and “There Will Never Be Another You.”

Things pretty much slowed down for Montez in the Seventies and later, although he did continue to work, often expanding deeper into Latin music. In recent years, he has found some success as a favorite of oldies music fans.

Chris Montez – “Call Me”

One thought on “The Evolution Of Chris Montez

  1. Don’t know what it says about my upbringing, but I had no idea there was any such thing as “chicano rock” until I was well into my 50s. Santana et al were just big name, very cool musicians. Richie Valens was just another singer to me, as was Chris Montez. Valens didn’t even have a hispanic name. Montez, of course, does, but his ethnicity never put him in a genre for me–chicano rock–until this moment, when you bring it up.

    Maybe because I’m not from SoCal? Hispanic ethnicity meant zero to us in the DC area, so I was brought up with no thoughts about it one way or another. All in all that may be a good thing….

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