The baby name Dollinda has appeared in the U.S. baby name data twice:
1959: 12 baby girls named Dollinda
1958: 18 baby girls named Dollinda [debut]
That’s an impressive debut — just a few babies away from Tequila, which appeared the same year thanks to a hit song.
But I can’t figure out what gave Dollinda a boost. I don’t see the name anywhere in typical pop culture places (e.g., TV) and I also don’t see any telling similarities among the late-’50s Dollindas I’ve found online (e.g., birthplaces, middle names).
One interesting fact is that the spelling “Dolinda” is nowhere to be seen in the data. It’s just Dollinda. This makes me think two things. First, the source must have had a visual component in order to anchor the spelling. Second…is there some sort of “doll” association here? Was this the name of a toy? Hm.
Around the same time Dollinda was in the data, Dorinda was seeing peak usage. A little later, in the early ’60s, Delinda peaked. I’m not sure if these names had any influence on Dollinda, though.
A couple of years before Tequila popped up on the charts, the like-sounding name Takeela debuted:
1956: 5 baby girls named Takeela [debut]
Like Tequila, Takeela can be traced back to music.
Introducing Kenny Burrell, the debut album of jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, was released by Blue Note in September of 1956. One of the seven tracks on the album was a song called “Takeela,” which “starts with a fast Latin beat on congas, giving Burrell a nice opportunity for fast, fluid solos.” (The congas were played by Cuban-born percussionist Candido Camero, who included a version of “Takeela” on his own 1957 album The Volcanic.)
According to the text on the back of the Introducing Kenny Burrell record album, the song “allegedly was not named after a bottle or even a glass of tequila, but after a girl.”
The baby name Tequila is a lot like the baby name Adidas. How? The baby name Tequila wasn’t popularized by the drink, just like the baby name Adidas wasn’t popularized by the shoe. Instead, they were both popularized by a song.
In Tequila’s case, the song was “Tequila” by The Champs.
“Tequila” was recorded rather offhandedly in December of 1957. It’s entirely instrumental except for the word tequila, spoken three times as “a silly attempt to cover up the holes in the song.” The speaker, saxophonist Danny Flores, was also the man who’d composed the song.
It was released as the B-side to “Train to Nowhere” in January of 1958, and it might have gone unnoticed had a Cleveland disk jockey not flipped the record over one day. Listeners loved it — so much so that “Tequila” became the #1 pop song in the nation by March.
The baby name Tequila, which had been very rare in the U.S., was suddenly given to at least 20 baby girls that year:
1959: 9 baby girls named Tequila
1958: 20 baby girls named Tequila [debut]
Nine more baby girls were named Tequilla, which also debuted on the list in 1958.
The next year, at the first-ever Grammy Awards, “Tequila” took home the trophy for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance.