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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
1,574 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Danny Flores has passed away at the age of 77.

From AP News

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Danny Flores, who played the saxophone and shouted the word "tequila!" in the 1950s hit song "Tequila!", has died. He was 77.

Flores, who lived in Westminster, died Tuesday at Huntington Beach Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Kathleen Curran. He died of complications from pneumonia, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.

The man sometimes called the "godfather of Latin rock" was born in Santa Paula but grew up in Long Beach. By age 5 he was playing guitar in church and at 14 he was a member of a trio that performed Mexican music.

In 1957, Flores was in a group that recorded some work with rockabilly singer
Dave Burgess. One of the songs was based on a nameless riff Flores had written. He played the "dirty" saxophone part and repeatedly growled the single-word lyric: "Tequila!"

Forum Contributor 2010 / RIP
1,363 Posts
I also heard about this today on NPR. He was part of one awesome recording! One of the all-time greatest latin beat sax tunes.

Distinguished SOTW Member
8,732 Posts
Anybody know Danny's setup? He had a great rock sound. So many ghosts. Every time I play I invoke all those great sounds from the '50s since that's what I cut my teeth on. I like to think the old guys sometimes hear it and smile.

SOTW Columnist/ Forum Contributor 2014, Disti
3,040 Posts
Bill, I just found out about Danny's passing tonight. My daughter saw a notice in the People magazine. I called his wife last week and last night to say hi and inquire about Danny's health but she did not answer the phone. I spoke to Danny last year and with his wife, Sharee several times this year. Danny had Alzheimer's disease. He was no longer able to perform but really appreciated his "fans" staying in touch.

1saxman, Danny played a King Super 20 in the "Tequila" days and later switched to a Selmer MVI. He played what appears to be a stock black hard rubber or plastic m/p. Not sure of the brand. As you know Danny used the popular "flutter tongue" effect on "Tequila." He said that he always explained the "flutter" effect as if he were spitting watermelon seeds.

I believe that his family would really appreciate hearing from some of us who may have been inspired by his hit record. You may want to send a card to;

Chuck Rio Enterprises
P.O. Box 236
Midway City, CA 92655

Chuck Rio was born Danny Flores in Santa Paula, California. His parents migrated from Mexico in the 1920s. "Little" Danny Flores was playing guitar in church at age five and was singing and playing with a Mexican trio by age fourteen. In the late 1940s he moved to Long Beach and formed a group called the 3-D Ranch Boys. They played local bars at night and were in great demand as studio musicians.

In 1957 Flores teamed up with guitarist Dave Burgess, head of A&R and the first artist signed to Gene Autry's Challenge label. They recorded "Train To Nowhere" and used Flores's band to record it. They needed a "B" side of the record so they used a song that Danny wrote. They didn't have a title for the song yet, but everybody knew that Flores drank a lot of tequila and one of the musicians said, "Call it Tequila," so they did. Flores also introduced a technique to a new generation of sax players when he added the "flutter tongue" to the melody.

The studio band consisted of Flores, Gene Alden (drummer), Buddy Bruce (guitar), Clif Hils (bass) and Dave Burgess (guitar).

Challenge told Flores that he would have to change his name because he was signed to Modern Record Company as a vocalist under his real name Danny Flores. So he took his mother's middle name (Carlos) and his father's middle name (Del Rio), and Challenge signed him up as an instrumentalist. However, as soon as "Tequila" was released, Modern went after Rio. He said one word on the record-"Tequila!"-and they said that was vocalizing! The touring band was named the Champs, after Autry's horse, Champion. "Tequila" is a timeless classic and has become an international standard. In 1957, "Tequila" received the first Grammy Award ever awarded for the best R&B category.

Chuck Rio, age 77, resided in Orange County, California, and continued to perform with his wife Sharee, who is also a singer and musician. Chuck's appearances include the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, Angel Stadium, Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, American Bandstand, Ed Sullivan Show, Dick Clark Show, and the Al Jarvis Show. "Tequila" has been used in movies such as Pepe, Overboard, Peggy Sue Got Married, Ninja Turtles, The Freshman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and many radio commercials.


1998 The Tequila Man-Ace

Other members of the studio band included:
Dave Burgess-lead guitar-Lancaster, California
Dale Norris-guitar-Springfield, Mississippi
Chuck Rio-sax-Rankin, Texas-replaced by Jimmy Seals eight months after "Tequila" was recorded.
Ben Norman-bass guitar-replaced by Bobby Morris-Tulsa, Oklahoma
Gene Alden-drums-Cisco, Texas-replaced by Dash Crofts
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