Huelyn Duvall is not a household name, but almost everyone has probably heard him shout "Tequila" at the end of the famed instrumental song by the Champs. At the time of the seemingly inconsequential holler, Duvall was signed, recorded, and poised to be a rockabilly star on his own. As chance would have it, "Tequila" became a huge hit; the record label went with it and paid little attention to Duvall.
Duvall recorded a few more songs with Nashville producer Owen Bradley and his musician A-team that included Grady Martin and Floyd Cramer. He performed with Johnny Horton, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Darin, Dale Hawkins, and other big stars of the time. Soon, though, the budding young star faded into musical oblivion without a big hit to prop him up. He married, got a job, and raised a family while living in his home state of Texas. His influence on the music world, little known to the masses, was felt by searching musicians and die-hard rockabilly fans. Robert Plant, lead singer of Led Zeppelin, gave Duval a nod with this quote: "Jimmy Page and I used to ride around in our cars listening to Huelyn Duvall, getting inspiration for our music. The songs have a lot of energy and were innocent and sincere."
During the resurgence of rockabilly in the '80s, some European promoters, familiar with his recordings from the mid-'50s, approached Duvall about performing again. After some successful shows in Holland and England, he's now back out on the road with a young rockabilly band from Sweden, Wildfire Willie & the Ramblers, receiving some long overdue credit for his musical contribution. His newest CD "She's My Baby" released in 2003, and a collection of the '50s Nashville recordings, "The Best of Huelyn Duvall: 1957-58" are available on Brazos Valley Records.
Huelyn Duvall performs at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 16, with Wildfire Willie & the Ramblers at the Underground City Tavern at the Hilton,
700 East Adams St. Tickets are $7. For more info, call 789-1530.