Just call him Zeke

Enjoying life while you can is what ’60s recording artist Chris Montez, encouraged students of the Music of the Beatles course to do, last Thursday. Montez, born Ezekiel Christopher Montanez, will be performing at Marsee Auditorium next Friday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.
Approaching 70, Montez toured with the Beatles during a European tour where his song “Let’s Dance” was on top of the Billboard charts. As the headlining act, the Beatles opened for Montez.
“The Beatles were like brothers. Paul was the most friendly. He was always making jokes and kept the peace with everyone,” Montez said.
A South Bay native, Montez grew up in Hawthorne, Calif and attended Hawthorne High School with the Beach Boys. He recalls jam sessions at the Wilson’s home and trying out for football with Brian.
“I never made it because I was too slow,” Montez said laughing. “I was surviving off of beans and tortillas with four brothers and sisters at home, so I didn’t have that physical strength.”
After touring the south with predominantly African American performers such as Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and Jerry Buffet, Montez was invited to play in the U.K.
“I learned how to charm the ladies from singers in the South,” Montez said. “Paul (McCartney) would make fun of me and sing my song ‘You’re the One’ to me while holding onto my hand like I did in my performances.”
Montez enrolled at EC and was discouraged by the music industry and the little money he earned from recording and touring. He took four years of music composition. After a chance encounter with musician and producer, Herb Alpert, Montez said the rest was history. He has been traveling the world ever since.
“It’s great that he came down especially since this was the first semester that this Beatles class has been offered. He’s so humble and down to earth. He really has his heart in the right place,” William Doyle, Music of the Beatles professor said.
Kevin Ocon, 21, history major is one of many students enrolled in the class who enjoyed Montez’ visit.
“It was very inspiring,” Ocon said. “Meeting someone from where I’m from who hung out with the Beach Boys and the Beatles influences me to go harder into music and put Hawthorne back on the map.”
With three current projects in progress, including a Tex Mex album, song writing for a British rock group and an album of jazz standards, Montez remains active. Jazz, he said, is one of his favorite genres to play, which he frequently plays with a jazz ensemble in Simi Valley.
“I don’t know Chris Montez,” Montez said. “He’s on the stage. When I’m out in the open I’m just Zeke.”
Tickets for next Friday’s concert are $25 and $20 for students with an ASB sticker.