EMAIL PAGE EIGHT
COLUMN EIGHTY-SIX, MARCH 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
SHIRLEY PENA INTERVIEWS
Fwd: Chris Montez: The More I See You...
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 15:35:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Shirley Pena firstname.lastname@example.org
Montez is a RARE joy to interview from among the myriad of artists performing on
"Oldies" venue shows nowadays. Proud of his notable past work
("The More I See You", "Let's Dance", etc.) he sets himself
apart from most of his peers in that he CONTINUES to pursue new & ORIGINAL
ideas in music. He recently wrapped up an extensive European tour on "The
All American Solid Gold Rock 'N' Roll Show", sharing billing with other
"Blasts From The Past" like Bobby Vee And The Chiffons. UNLIKE his
fellow performers on that show, Chris distinguished himself as a man who is
anything BUT content to sit back and revel in his past glories. For Chris,
sitting with me backstage at The London Palladium last month, things are
DEFINITELY "Swinging right" in both his life and career.
Chris, at the risk of embarrassing you, I gotta say that you look
Well, when you get MY age and you have a three-year-old child, then you GOTTA
make some BIG changes in your lifestyle, if you plan on STILL being around to
see your child graduate from high school! But you know, it really is NOT that
hard to do. I DO feel young STILL, but at least I have the good sense to know
that I CANNOT do the foolish stuff I did when I WAS a young man. Back then, it
was nothing for me to stay up all night, drinking and partying. I'd get pretty
much wasted, especially on the road. Nowadays, I know when enough is ENOUGH!
One of the BIG disappointments for me is that you continue to be passed up on a
nomination into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Speaking for myself, you rank among the TOP artists
from Rock's so-called "Golden Era", yet every year the nominating
board members pass you by.
Well, frankly I don't give a damn if I EVER get nominated! I WAS truly delighted
to see Richie (Valens) get there though. I was in AWE of him when I was a young
man, and his work CONTINUES to amaze me still. He really was MILES AHEAD in what
he was doing: combining traditional Latin music---its unique rhythms and tempo,
with Rock And Roll. It would be YEARS until OTHER Latin artists in Rock would
follow suite, people like Carlos Santana and Los Lobos.
I was fortunate enough to meet Richie and shake his hand, about five
months before he was killed. He had returned to play a smallish venue in the
community he came from: East Los Angeles. He was such a gentleman: quiet and
low-key when you spoke to him, but had this TREMENDOUS aura of...ROYALTY about
him! He carried himself with such CLASS!
Rock really does seem RIFE with gifted artists who met untimely ends. Can you
recall meeting any other artists you particularly admired whose life was cut
short far too soon?
John Lennon. I can recall like it was yesterday! I was touring London in the
EARLY '60s, and had just scored a HUGE hit in Europe with "Some Kinda Fun."
Well Chris, I WON'T ask you the usual questions about your childhood. I think
that most of your fans are well-aware that you were born
Well, I think my parents were pretty typical of most Hispanic families at that
time. Music was pivotal to family life, and EVERYONE was expected to sing and
play to at least some degree. My folks loved big family get-togethers, where
everyone took turns singing and playing. I grew up learning traditional Ranchero
songs, the ones STILL performed today. I had a VERY high voice, so invariably
would take the vocal parts normally performed by the female! I can remember the
first guitar I ever learned to play. It was an OLD Spanish acoustic I'd gotten
as a hand-me-down from my older brother. It had an impossibly WIDE neck on the
thing---a neck like a tree trunk!
Do you still own any of your early guitars?
Yeah...a few...not many. I am MUCH more of a collector NOW than I was in my
earlier career. I still get excited every time I acquire a really OLD
model---CAN'T WAIT to play it... just get the FEEL of it! Guitars really are
like people: even within the same make/model each has it's own unique
personality, it's certain SOMETHING.
I just purchased a vintage '65 strat in mint condition. It's the kind of thing that most collectors would NEVER
play, just hang on the wall and look at. My
wife asked me: "So, what are you gonna do with it?" I told her:"
Are you KIDDING?! I'm gonna just BEAT THE SHIT outta it! I'm gonna play it til
my fingers HURT!" You know what I mean?
So what are some of your current musical projects, Chris?
I was sitting next to Julian Webber (brother of Andrew Lloyd Webber) in
the audience tonight, and he was discussing collaborating with you on an album.
Julian is a fascinating guy! For some time now, he has been a huge fan of that
classic A&M Easy Listening Pop, the kind that I was creating under the
direction of Herb Alpert back in the sixties("Call Me", "The More
I See You"). Julian approached
me with the idea of us producing an album together, one that would combine that
mellow A&M feel with classical music! The album will feature Julian on
cello. I thought: "Now THAT is something no one has thought of doing!"
Just a brilliant guy! I have also just finished an album of
"Tex-Mex" music that I am quite proud of. I am currently doing my
final mix and edit of it. Also, I was recently approached by indie film producer
Dan Guerro, who wants to do a movie about my life!
Chris, thanks so much for taking the time from your VERY busy schedule to let
your fans know what you are up to!
MY pleasure, Shirley! THAT is what I was driving at when I said earlier that it
really does not concern me that much over getting stuff like nominations.
Stuff like that is done by panels consisting NOT of one's fans, but
rather consisting of music industry insiders. I don't create music
for those people---their concerns are NOT mine. I create music for the
same people NOW as I did THEN: myself and my fans. It's not about being a big
star, but it IS about sharing and being REAL with fans. My FANS are what make it
all worthwhile. ##
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