Los Angeles Almanac Logo
Home | All Almanac Topics | Arts

Chris Montez, the Beach Boys and the Beatles

Chris Montez

Chris Montez in trade ad for single "Because of You," 1967. Photo from Billboard, March 4, 1967.

Singer and guitarist Chris Montez (born Ezekiel "Zeke" Christopher Monteñez) achieved fame in the 1960s with such songs as “Let’s Dance,” “Call Me,” “The More I See You,” and “There Will Never Be Another You.” Seven of his songs made it into the top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The four noted here hit the U.S. top ten.

Montez grew up in Hawthorne, as did the Beach Boys. In fact, Montez and the Wilson brothers and their cousin Al Jardine all attended Hawthorne High School together. Montez even jammed with the future Beach Boys at their home. In 1962, Montez signed with Monogram Records. His first record single, “All You Had to Do Was Tell Me,” became a hit in Los Angeles. His second single, “Let’s Dance,” rocketed him to #4 in the U.S. charts.

Montez soon was touring the U.S. with such performers as Sam Cooke, Clyde McPhatter, Jerry Butler, The Platters, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. In 1963, because “Let’s Dance” had achieved #2 in the U.K. Singles Chart, Montez was invited, along with Tommy Roe (“Sheila” and “Sweet Pea”), to tour England. Opening for Montez and Roe was a new band from Liverpool, named The Beatles. Few in the U.S. had heard of them at the time, but, they were already wildly popular in the U.K. when the tour began. Montez recalled English fans being as crazed for the Beatles as American fans were for Elvis Presley.

Montez related that they all got along, except for an incident later in the tour. He was sleeping on the tour bus when an inebriated John Lennon deliberately poured beer on Montez's head. He and Lennon ended up in a knock-down fight on the bus. Paul McCartney and Tommy Roe had to pull them apart. Afterwards, Montez, for his part, chose to let it go and move on. He demonstrated this with the following show that was in Liverpool, the hometown of the Beatles. He agreed with Roe to let the Beatles close that show. That however, was the end of the tour's top billing for Montez and Roe. Tour management decided thereafter the Beatles would close all the remaining six performances. Seeing that the Beatles's recent first album release was quickly making them into overnight superstars ("Please Please Me" went on to remain #1 in the U.K Official Albums Chart for 30 weeks) and seeing the explosive fan enthusiasm for the band, Montez chose not to fuss.

During the tour, the Beatles took time to return to their London recording studio to finish their first album, "Please Please Me." Back at the tour hotel, they gave Montez a copy of the finished product that included the songs "Love Me do," "Please Please Me," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Twist and Shout." The album would not be released until eight days later. Montez loved it, listening to it over and over. He was likely the first American to hear a Beatles album. Unbeknownst to Montez and Roe at the time, they were the last performers to have the Beatles open for them.

Whereas the Beatles went on to become a global phenomenon, Montez’ career seemed to stall following the U.K. tour. He became disillusioned with the music business. He enrolled at El Camino College to study music, hoping it might help him find some kind of boost. In 1965, following a chance meeting with musician and record producer Herb Alpert, he agreed to sign with Alpert's A&M Records. Alpert convinced him to shift to a softer, less rock-and-roll style of music and, although reluctant at first, the shift paid off. That year, his “Call Me” hit #2 in the U.S. and, in 1966, “The More I See You” hit #2 (#3 in the U.K.) and “There Will Never Be Another You” hit #4. Nevertheless, as happens to the vast majority of artists, by 1968, Montez was again no longer ranking in U.S. charts. He did continue to do well internationally into the early 1970s, with songs partially or wholly in Spanish such as “Loco Por Ti” and “Ay No Digas.”

L.A. Videos

"Let’s Dance"
Let's Dance, Chris Montez

"Call Me"
Call Me, Chris Montez

"The More I See You"
The More I See You, Chris Montez