Robert Lee “Chan” Romero was born on 7 July 1941 in Billings, Montana (USA). His father was of Spanish and Apache descent while his mother was a mix of Mexican, Cherokee and Irish. Both had migrated to Montana during the Great Depression, seeking employment as migrant farmworkers.
As a teenager, Romero hitchhiked to Los Angeles in 1958, where he wrote Hippy Hippy Shake and launched his music career.
Two months after the plane crash that claimed the life of Ritchie Valens, Romero’s manager Don Redfield sent a tape to Valens’ manager, Bob Keane. Keane was greatly impressed with the recordings and hailed Romero as a successor to Valens, immediately signing him to a contract on Del-Fi Records.
Romero’s career skyrocketed with the release of Hippy Hippy Shake in July 1959.