Born in Stockton, California to working class parents, Chris Isaak
did not always picture himself to be a musician, much less an actor as well. As a teenager, he was an avid sportsman and loved surfing. He even tried his hand at competitive boxing, but after that route left him a permanently bent nose – which has since become something of a trademark that is associated with him – he had a change of heart. Isaak then turned his attention towards his education and left for Japan as part of an exchange program. After his return, he graduated from college and worked at a number of small jobs. During this time, Isaak shifted his focus, once again, and started to take an interest in music, eventually forming a band with his friends in 1981.
The band was called Silvertone and consisted of Rowland Salley on bass, James Calvin Wilsey on lead guitar, Kenny Dale on the drums and Isaak himself on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. The group performed cover songs of famous rockabilly hits from the 1950s as well as original material that Isaak himself wrote. Nevertheless, Isaak struggled for a while and was largely obscure, but kept on playing every show he could in order to get recognized.
By the mid-1980s, Isaak secured a recording deal and released his first ever studio album, titled Silvertone
, in 1985. The album was highly praised by critics and was also a moderate success, selling fourteen thousand copies. Beyond that, Silvertone
went largely unnoticed until one of the album’s songs, "Gone Ridin’", was used in David Lynch’s influential cult classic film Blue Velvet
. This exposed a Isaak’s music to a large audience and enhanced his profile manifold.
Isaak would not get his big break until the very end of the 1980s, after the release of his third studio album, Heart Shaped World
. The release featured such hits as "Diddley Daddy" and "Wicket Game", the latter of which reached number six on the Billboards Hot 100
chart after being used in yet another film by David Lynch. Heart Shaped World
itself was a major commercial success, selling more than two million copies as well as being certified triple platinum by the RIAA. The music video for "Wicked Game" was also noted for its artistic imagery and has been ranked number seventy-three by Rolling Stone
magazine on its "The 100 Top Music Videos" list.
Thereon, Isaak began a long and illustrious career releasing many hit singles and successful albums. He has been praised by critics for his style as well as his distinctive stage persona and is often compared to musical legends Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley. Michael Goldberg of Rolling Stone
wrote "No one else has so successfully drawn from the past, with an artist’s eye, reassembling the disparate images, sounds, styles and artifacts of pop-culture history into one persona [than Isaak]." He further stated that Isaak manages to "transcend all [his] stagy photos, contrived outfits and retro minutiae" but that his music is "the genuine article."
Not content with being a famous musician, Isaak has also dabbled in acting and has starred in such prominent films as Silent of the Lambs
, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
, Little Buddha
, That Thing You Do!
and, more recently, the 2009 film The Informers
. The highlight of his acting career, however, was a starring role in a TV show of his own, called The Chris Isaak Show
is now considered a musical genius in his own right. Many of his songs have been featured in prominent films, which have helped him amass a large fan-base. These fans now have an opportunity to see their favorite star in person because Chris Isaak tickets
are now up for grabs.
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