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All Music Guide:
A somewhat obscure but quite interesting performer from the tail end of the initial '50s rock & roll explosion, Latino guitarist and singer Romero is most famous for writing and singing the original version of "Hippy Hippy Shake." Causing only a minor ripple in the U.S. upon its 1959 release, it became a standard part of the repertoire for Liverpool bands in the early '60s. The Swinging Blue Jeans had a huge hit with it in 1964, reaching number two in the U.K. (and the U.S. Top 40). Although they never recorded it in the studio, the Beatles performed it often on the BBC; a superb 1963 version from this source, featuring a cord-shredding Paul McCartney vocal, was released on the group's Live at the BBC compilation.
Romero had more to offer than the typical one-song wonder, but didn't get much of a chance to prove it in the studio. Born to Mexican parents in Billings, MT, Romero began performing in the late '50s. The success of trailblazing Latino rocker Ritchie Valens impressed him deeply, spurring him to pen "Hippy Hippy Shake," an up-tempo rocker modeled on Valens. A tryout at Specialty lead to nothing, but in the wake of Valens' tragic death in February 1959, Romero's manager contacted the late singer's label, Del-Fi. Though perhaps opportunistic, the strategy was entirely appropriate; Romero's raw and enthusiastic high-pitched vocals and rockabilly-derived guitar playing was a pretty close approximation of Valens' style.
"Hippy Hippy Shake" did make number three in Australia, leading to a 1960 tour there with Jerry Lee Lewis, but Chan Romero's records didn't do much in the United States. Romero did record some other respectable sides for Del-Fi which, like Valens, saw him alternating raucous rockers with ballads. Del-Fi went as far as to have Romero record with the same musicians as Valens had, Rene Hall's Danelectro bass guitar (which was played as assertively as a lead instrument) being the most distinguishing feature of the arrangements. And Chan reminded Valens' mother of her late son so much that he stayed in her home for several months.
But Romero didn't stay at Del-Fi (or indeed record much there at all), leaving the label in the early '60s. Over the next few years he made some one-off singles for other companies, working on separate occasions with legendarily weird producers Kim Fowley and Shadow Morton. Eventually he concentrated on Christian-inspired music, founding his own Warrior label in the mid-'60s for that purpose. He remains an active performer, occasionally playing on the oldies circuit.
Robert Lee "Chan" Romero (born July 7, 1941, Billings, Montana) is an American rock and roll pioneer and contemporary of Ritchie Valens, best known for his seminal 1959 hit, "Hippy Hippy Shake".
Life and career 
Romero's heritage was rather mixed. His father was of Spanish and Apache stock while his mother was a mix of Mexican, Cherokee and Irish. Both had migrated to Montana during the Great Depression, seeking employment as migrant farm workers. His nickname was bestowed on him by his grandfather. Since Romero often ran around without footwear, the nickname, from a Spanish phrase meaning "little boy with pig's feet" seemed appropriate.
Romero cites a major turning point in his life in 1955. That was the year Elvis Presley performed "Hound Dog" on The Steve Allen Show. Presley was Romero's biggest influence prior to the arrival of Valens.
The teenaged Chan Romero hitchhiked to East Los Angeles, California in 1958. It was there he wrote "Hippy Hippy Shake" and thus launched his career. An uncle introduced Romero and his music to an A&R representative from Specialty Records; Sonny Bono. Bono was particularly taken with a song called "My Little Ruby" and asked Romero to polish the song and to return in a few weeks. Romero needed to return to school in Montana and never returned to Specialty.
Upon forming a band upon his return, it soon became clear that Valens had a tremendous impact on Romero, so much so that the two artists, who never met, sounded alike and shared much the same ethnic heritage. Two months after the plane crash that claimed Valens' life, manager Don Redfield sent a tape to Valens' manager, Bob Keane, in Los Angeles. Keane was greatly impressed with the recordings and hailed Romero as a successor to Valens, immediately signing him to a contract on Del-Fi Records, the same label as Valens.
When Romero returned to Los Angeles, Keane introduced him to Valens' grieving mother with whom Romero became close. Her home served as Romero's home during his visits to Los Angeles; he slept in Valens' bedroom. He remains close to the family and has performed at the Ritchie Valens memorial concert held yearly in Pacoima, California.
Romero's career skyrocketed with the release of "Hippy Hippy Shake" in July 1959. Released first in the U.S. and later in Australia and in the UK, it soon came to the attention of Paul McCartney who liked the song and sang it at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and the Star Club in Hamburg during his early years with The Beatles. The 1964 version by The Swinging Blue Jeans hit number one across Europe.
"Hippy Hippy Shake" remained a popular cover song as well as appearing in numerous movie soundtracks, among them Uncle Buck, It Takes Two and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Perhaps the best-known version to contemporary audiences appeared in 1988 on the soundtrack of Cocktail as performed by The Georgia Satellites. A version by The Beatles appeared on the 1994 release Live at the BBC. "Hippy Hippy Shake" was recorded by Polish singer Czesław Niemen in 1964.
Romero's first visit to Palm Springs, California in 1964 inspired him to make the area his home. He still lives in the area and divides his time between Palm Springs and Billings. Romero's daughter Holly Romero Sanchez is the youth pastor alongside Alfonzo Sanchez at Living Word in the Desert in Indio, California. Holly also participates on the worship team as the keyboardist and Alfonzo (aka DJ YMA) "scratches" alongside his wife on stage, adding a unique flare to the Living Word worship.