Written on the spot and recorded as an afterthought near the end of a session at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, the song—”Tequila” —hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart on March 17, 1958. It was the Champs’ one, and only, pop hit. Half a century later, this accidental, one-word classic still sounds as fresh and irresistible as it did to the long-forgotten Cleveland disk jockey who rescued it from the cutout bin of history.
It was only after the “Tequila” session that the musicians present that day came up with a name for themselves, inspired by the name of Gene Autry’s horse, Champion. It was also after that session that Danny Flores came up with the pseudonym “Chuck Rio,” under which he was given the songwriting credit on “Tequila.” None of this would have mattered, however, had a Cleveland DJ not decided to “flip” the flop called “Train to Nowhere” one day in the winter of 1958 and treat his listeners to the first broadcast of “Tequila,” which in short order went on to become one of the biggest B-side hits in rock-and-roll history and a #1 hit for the Champs on this day in 1958.