Unsung Heroes of Hispanic Heritage Month: Pianist Shep Devereaux

They were ordinary people living ordinary lives, until one singular sensation of circumstance conspired with fate to make them UNSUNG HEROES OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.

Hollywood, Dec. 23, 1958. Singing cowboy Gene Autry‘s Challenge Records signed hard-drinking rockabilly singer/piano-player Shep Devereaux to produce four sides. Devereaux, originally from New Orleans, booked the Flores Trio (Danny Flores on saxophone and keyboards, Gene Alden on drums, and lead guitarist Buddy Bruce) to back him up. They recorded three rockabilly numbers and an up-tempo mostly-instrumental track composed by Flores, a song jokingly called “Chingate.” The song’s lyrics consisted of just that one cussword, repeated three times and featured a blistering sax solo by Flores.

When Autry, in the control room, heard “Chingate” he knew it was a hit, but realized the name had to change, so he asked for suggestions for three-syllable phrases from the band.

“Horchata!” “Tu madre!” “Pendejo!” The musicians were full of ideas.

Autry asked producer Devereaux which lyric would work, and by the way, what’s the name of this group anyhow?

“The Champs,” replied Devereaux. These guys are The Champs! And let’s call the song Tequila!”

Tequila reached Billboard’s Number One chart position on March 28, 1958.



Photo by Rocky1962. [This story first ran in 2012.]