What turned Tequila into a baby name in 1958?

The Champs album "Go, Champs, Go!" (1958)
Champs album

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:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 9 baby girls named Tequila
  • 1958: 20 baby girls named Tequila [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

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.

How do you feel about the baby name Tequila?

Sources: Tequila by The Champs – Songfacts, The Champs’ “Tequila” is the #1 song on the U.S. pop charts – History.com

2 thoughts on “What turned Tequila into a baby name in 1958?

  1. Think I would have to pass on THAT name! Are there other alcoholic drinks that are used as names?
    I was watching the show “Hart of Dixie” and one of the main characters is named “Lemonade” and called “Lemon”, for short. Reminded me of a roommate I had in college named “Tangerine”. Only person I have every met with that name. Her story is that her mother spoke only French and did not know what the name meant but thought it was a nice sound. She had a very French sounding last name so I could see where the mother would love the sound of “Tangerine”! Are other fruit names popular?

  2. Oh there are plenty of alcohol baby names out there — Chardonnay, Chianti, Courvoisier, Cristalle, Daiquiri, Hennessy, Merlot, Moet, Sangria, etc. A few years ago I blogged about Alize, which is another.

    I wonder when Tangerine was born. The name Tangerine has been on the SSA’s list a few times, starting in the ’60s. I think the initial inspiration may have been the Ray Charles label Tangerine Records.

    There are other fruit names out there, but I don’t know if I’d call them popular. Apple and Huckleberry are in use as baby names right now, for instance, but they’re still rare.

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