Champs – Tequila

TEQUILA!  Oh I remember a few nights…or don’t remember….nevermind.

This was a B side…a great B side. Train To Nowhere was the A side to this single. Disc jockeys flipped the single and played “Tequila” instead, and in  1958, it peaked at #1 in the Billboard Charts and #5 in the UK in 1958. The song was one of the biggest hits of the ’50s.

Leo Kulka, who was the second engineer, said this song was an afterthought after the band recorded “Train to Nowhere.” Some of the musicians had already left the studio when it was brought up that nothing had been recorded for the B-side. The remaining musicians were rounded up and the song was written on the spot. The “Tequila” part of the song was simply an attempt to cover up the holes in the song. After all, it was just the B-side.

Like most bands with a surprise hit…they released more Tequila related songs, including “Too Much Tequila” and “Tequila Twist.” Didn’t have the same impact.

Danny Flores, who was the saxophone player in The Champs, wrote this song… it’s credited to his pen name, Chuck Rio.

From Songfacts

Tequila is an alcoholic beverage named after a town in Mexico. It is a key ingredient in Margaritas and is often done as a shot by licking salt, taking the drink, then sucking a lemon wedge. Many bars turn this song into a production, often offering shots of tequila directly from the bottle.

The Champs were a Los Angeles group that named themselves after Gene Autry’s horse, Champion. The “Train to Nowhere”/”Tequila” single was their first release. They had a few more modest instrumental hits, including the follow-up, “El Rancho Rock,” which reached #30 in the US, but never came close to the success of “Tequila.” Later members of the group included Glen Campbell, Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts (Seals & Crofts of ’70s fame.

After The Champs, the Eagles were the next group to chart with a “Tequila” song, reaching #64 with “Tequila Sunrise” in 1973. The beverage fell out of favor musically in the ’80s, but was revived in the ’90s by Terrorvision (“Tequila”) and Sammy Hagar (“Mas Tequila”). It later became a hot topic in country songs, with tracks like “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” and “You and Tequila.”

As the song started climbing the chart, a sax player named Eddie Platt released a competing version that reached #20. Other cover versions of the song to chart are by:

Bill Black’s Combo – #91 in 1964
Hot Butter – #105 in 73
A.L.T. & The Lost Civilization – #48 in 1992

This was featured in the 1985 movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. It was used in a scene where Pee Wee Herman wins over the crowd in a biker bar by doing a dance to the song. The movie was the first feature film directed by Tim Burton, and Danny Elfman wrote the score.

This won for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance at the first ever Grammy Awards in 1959. 




Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

33 thoughts on “Champs – Tequila”

  1. Max – your blog constantly reminds me of how I know so many tunes that I didn’t know I knew! I guess it comes from 70 years with the radio going in the background. It had caused me to know the pieces of music but not the names of the artists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m still learning also…I run across songs that I knew but had no clue of who did them or the name of the song. I did that the other day on a Chicago song.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pee Wee dancing on that bar is burned into my brain forever. He gave a few generations a renewed interest in that song, and most likely, Tequila, which I cant drink because it makes me crazy in record time. I notice they are sitting on Triumph motorcycles, a very British machine. Back in high school, around 67, a buddy of mine wanted to sell me his Triumph 650cc bike. At the time I didn’t have one having recently sold my Sears Mo-Ped to a 12 year-old kid. I loved the bike, but damn, it had the hardest clutch in the world and I couldn’t handle it. So, I went on to buy a Honda S 90.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phil there is a documentary that was released in the early seventies called On Any Sunday by Bruce Brown about people who raced motorcycles in every kind of way and just in general. Steve McQueen briefly appeared in it…have you ever seen it?

      I love those old Triumph and BSA’s motorcycles. Such a classic look. I had a Honda and a Yamaha….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Classic near-instrumental. Great rocking little bit of music. Better than the drink, imo! Some would differ…I worked for one store which was a branch of a sort of holding co. named ‘Anejo’ after the boss’s favorite tequila, I’m told.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anejo is the aged form of tequila. It’s the only tequila worth drinking. Tequila Silver is not aged at all and that is the stuff that can bring on the worst of hangovers. Reposado might be aged a year but, that still isn’t enough.

      The Mexicans keep their good stuff for themselves. When I lived in Texas, my chiropractor’s wife had family in Mexico. They were always bringing stuff back, across the border. One of the things they brought back was 30 year old Anejo sipping tequila. Smooth as water.

      I won’t drink any other kind.


  4. Pee Wee had everyone fooled. His show was supposed to be for children but it was so obvious it was for stoned adults. I watched it once under the influence of Maui Wowie and I was amazed what a great program it was. We’re talking Pulitzer Prize television here; talking clocks and chairs and everything in between, and so much innuendo. Kids didn’t get the show at all. He was like Captain Kangaroo on an acid trip. The Champs played Panther Hall back in the early 70s. I didn’t make the show but I would imagine they played that song. Seals and Croft are both boys from West Texas. Grew up dirt farm poor. I remember them playing in different bands around Dallas back in the 60s. Dan Seals, Jimmy’s brother, was the other half of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley. They both played in a band called The Southwest F.O.B. and then another called ” Le Cirque.” It was a small rock community back then and we all knew each other and played many gigs together. Everyone was happy for them when the big time came knocking and they kicked it up a few notches. I believe John Coley still lives around the Fort Worth area. You can still catch some of Pee Wee’s antics on YouTube. Sorry for the digression from the original topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go off of it as much as you want…I’m known for going off topic…I’ve made it an art…I love it.
      I’ve watched some of Pee Wee’s show before but never under the influence…I will have to try that!
      That is cool about Seals and Croft. I would imagine you would have a tight community with musicians. Even our small rock network in Nashville was tight with each other…really no big competition.


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