Huelyn was there and can be heard on the recording!

Memories of the "Tequila" Recording Session by Huelyn Duvall

I have been asked many times about the recording session that produced the big instrumental hit  “Tequila”.  Here are my memories about that session.

In January 1958 I went to Hollywood to do my second recording session for Challenge Records, a new company owned by the "Singing Cowboy" Gene Autry.  My first session had been at the Owen Bradley Studios in Nashville and the Challenge producers wanted to try a session at Gold Star where Eddie Cochran had gotten some good sounds.


While I was there, Challenge was doing an instrumental recording session.  They had a song called “Train To Nowhere”  and asked me if I would play lead guitar on the recording.  Not being a studio musician I declined, but agreed to do some background harmony vocals.  They picked up a lead guitarist and a few other studio musicians and we recorded the song.  Well, it takes two songs for a 45 rpm record so one of the musicians had an idea for another instrumental.  Quickly the song was recorded and called "Tequila".  We were all sitting in the recording studio and at the end of the song decided to yell "TEQUILA" in unison.  I finished my own recording session and returned to Texas.   "Train To Nowhere" was later released as the "A" side of the record.  Nothing happened until a DJ in Cleveland played the "B" side.  The rest is history - a true million seller in 1958!  It turned out to be one of the most famous instrumental recording sessions in history.

Many people think that Glen Campbell was the lead guitar player who took my place at the recording session.  It would make a better story, but Glen did not join the group until much later.  Actually, I do not know the name of the guitarist who played on the recording.  The saxophone player, writer, and deep “Tequila” voice was that of Chuck Rio (Danny Flores).  Glen Alden played drums and Dave Burgess played the two chord riff and wrote "Train To Nowhere" as I remember.  There was not a group called The Champs until after the recording session.

Maybe I should have taken guitar lessons! 

Huelyn Duvall

I first met Huelyn Duvall in Hollywood, California when he came to record his second session for Challenge Records. In 1957 he had recorded on of my songs called "Boom Boom Baby" in Nashville. I worked for Challenge  (a new Gene Autry company) and I thought recording at Goldstar Studios might make a unique session.
Since Huelyn was only 17 and I was all of 21, I was assigned the task of "watching after" the young Rockabilly from Texas. Couldn't let him run off with a Hollywood starlit.  He stayed in my home for a week and I showed him around town.  We also did a couple of shows, one in L.A. and the other in San Diego.
I also had a session planned to do a couple of instrumentals , and asked Huelyn to play guitar since we were using studio musicians and didn't have a guitar player lined up.  He declined. Said his lead guitar work was not session quality.
Little did he (or I) know this would turn out to be one of the most famous instrumental recording sessions in history. "Tequila."
We recorded two songs , "Train To Nowhere" and "Tequila". Huelyn helped with the background vocals in "Train To Nowhere" and yelled "Tequilaaaaa!" at the end of the song.

At Huelyn's session at Goldstar, we used the same musicians and recorded "Friday Night On A Dollar Bill", "You Knock Me Out", "Humdinger" and "Fools Hall Of Fame".  The famous Jordanaires did the background vocals.
I made plans with Huelyn to do a six weeks show in Las Vegas in March of 1958. Neither of us had a hit record at the time and we were doing the Vegas show because the money was good.
Well, some DJ in Cleveland played "Tequila" one day and the rest is history.  Huelyn and I saw one another again in Nashville in 1958.  Me and the Champs (the former studio musicians) were touring the country and Huelyn was recording his only Billboard charted song ""Little Boy Blue" along with "Three Months To Kill".
"Little Boy Blue" made the top 10 list in Los Angeles, Dallas and New Orleans.  "Three Months To Kill" was his most popular song in Europe.  Just recently we spoke with Huelyn and he sounded great and is producing a new CD with palns to possibly revive his music career. Old Texas Rockabilly's just seem to keep on keepin' on!

Dave Burgess
Producer of "Tequila" and leader
of "The Champs".


Liner Notes From "The Best Of Huelyn Duvall" CD