Chris Isaak

  • Rockabilly guitarist born in 1956 in Stockton California.
  • After college, Isaak formed a rockabilly band called Silvertone in 1982. Isaak played guitar, while the other members played drums, bass and guitar. Once Isaak went solo, these other members remained his permanent backup band.
  • in 1985, he signed a record contract. His debut album, Silvertone, was released that year. While the name referenced his original band, it also gave an indication of Isaak’s vocal sound – a unique 50’s rock & roll and crooner sound, complete with a soaring falsetto. This has led to the nickname of “The Roy Orbison of the 90s.”
  • Silvertone was a mixture of country blues and folk ballads, but it did not sell well, despite praise from the critics. Two tracks from the album were used in the soundtrack for the 1986 cult film Blue Velvet.
  • His second album, the self titled Chris Isaak, was released in 1986. It had more of an R&B style compared to his first album. Again, it was liked by the critics but none of the 4 singles charted in the U.S.
  • In 1989, Heart Shaped World was released. It contained the single that would become his signature song – Wicked Game. The instrumental version of Wicked Game was used in the 1990 film Wild at Heart. An Atlanta DJ was a fan of the film, and started playing the vocal version, and it became the most requested song on the station. This started a national buzz for the song, and eventually it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The video for the song, featuring Isaak and supermodel Helena Christensen making-out on the beach, was chosen by NME (the British equivalent to Rolling Stone) as the #3 Greatest Music Video of all time. The song and video compelled me to buy the CD – a very unique song. Heart Shaped World has sold over 3 million copies in the U.S.
  • Isaak released 9 more studio albums between 1993 and 2015. 1995’s Forever Blue, with the single Somebody’s Crying, sold over 1 million copies, while sales of the other records have been modest.
  • He has appeared in 9 movies, and he starred in the Showtime TV series The Chris Isaac Show from 2001 to 2004. The show is a fictionalized sitcom the follows Isaac’s day to day life as a rock musician. In 2009, he hosted a 1 hour talk show for The Biography Channel called The Chris Isaak Hour, where he interviews and performs with various music artists, including Michael Buble, Stevie Nicks, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Jewel.
  • He has stayed true to his rockabilly approach to music. His 2011 album Beyond the Sun was a tribute to former Sun Records artists, featuring songs by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. All rockabilly superstars!
  • In a music world where so many artists record the same over-produced pop sounds made by computers, it’s refreshing to stumble across an artist like Isaak who makes music in traditional ways and still has a uniqueness to him. Watch the video for Wicked Games – and try not to get the windows steamed up.

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