In 1962, Chris’ single, “Let’s Dance” hit the top 10 and he was on his way. He toured with Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke, The Platters and Smokey Robinson. In 1963, while in Liverpool with Tommy Roe, his opening act was a new English group, The Beatles. With 3 years on the road behind him, Chris came home in 1965 to complete his education and join a new label, A & M. Herb Alpert dropped in on one of Chris’ first sessions and suggested that he try a soft ballad sound. It was a more conservative style than Chris would have preferred but Alpert’s instincts were good and the hits “The More I See You,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Call Me” and “Time After Time” followed in quick succession.
Long before The Doors and The Beach Boys, there was a musical phenomenon occurring in Los Angeles’ large Hispanic population that would take 30 years to be recognized. In the early 50’s, rhythm and blues performed solely by black musicians took hold with Los Angeles’ Chicano (Americans born of Mexican descent) residents years before it gained popularity with the teens who would credit Elvis Presley with their introduction to rock ‘n roll. In the barrios of East Los Angeles, The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, Crows and Big Jay McNeely were the music of choice in the 50’s.
While the British and psychedelic rock were invading the U.S., Chris left A & M, signed with CBS International and amassed a string of hits outside the U.S. that has firmly established him as an international recording star. He has recorded songs in English and in Spanish that have become hits in Austria, Germany and Holland.
Those solid musical roots, intermingled with traditional Mexican rancheras gained a new and fresh popularity with groups such as Los Lobos. The success of the film “La Bamba” identified those roots. Chris Montez’ well-known hits and his heritage are part of the Richie Valens legacy.
“I am very conscious of my culture,” says Chris, who performed as Chris Montez and La Raza on tours to Japan, South America and Europe. Judging by record sales and well attended appearances in many European cities, so are they.
Today, Chris Montez is just hitting his stride. Born into a bi-cultural city with a rich heritage, he emerges trim and fit, an energetic performer with a history and cultural relevance that is unique.