I remember when the news broke about the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie 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.