Listen to this track, from Latino rock ‘n’ roll singer Chan Romero. It’s the classic ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’, a storming R&B hit for Romero in 1959, and was to become a popular cover for bands ranging from The Beatles (who performed it during their Cavern Club days, with Paul singing lead), the Swinging Blue Jeans, and 80s southern rock outfit The Georgia Satellites.
Chan Romero was something of a parallel performer to the more well known Ritchie Valens, since the two of them were of similar talents, similar voices, came from a similar cultural background, and even recorded with the same band.
Yet incredibly, the two never met. Valens died on the same plane as Buddy Holly the year “Hippy Hippy Shake” was recorded. Romero was as enamoured with rock ‘n’ roll as Valens of course, idolizing Elvis, and hitchhiking to California to seek his fortune as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist.
He would record this song on the Del-Fi label. This is a startlingly raw rock n roll tune, with a full-on vocal that sounds like a challenge to any singer’s vocal chords. It’s a pretty simple R&B song, and yet it seems imbued with something timeless, and primal too.
Romero’s delivery seems to burst with youthful vigour, and you can almost hear him smiling as he’s singing. It’s irresistible. No wonder the song has lasted so long as a rock band favourite by scrappy pick-up bands all over the world.
Chan Romero still lives in Palm springs.