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Chris Isaak is a singer-songwriter and actor with several gold records and notable appearances in films by David Lynch, Jonathan Demme and John Waters.
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Christopher Isaak was born on June 26, 1956, in Stockton, California. As a boy, he listened to records by Elvis and Roy Orbison, which were major influences. Isaak's third album, Heart Shaped World became a hit when director David Lynch used Isaak's song "Wicked Game" in the film Wild at Heart. Herb Ritts' video for the song helped make Isaak a star and sex symbol. He continues to record and act.
Singer, songwriter and actor Christopher Joseph Isaak was born on June 26, 1956, in Stockton, California. He grew up in the blue-collar town of Stockton as the son of a forklift operator. Borrowing his brother's guitar, Isaak taught himself how to play and started writing songs as a teenager. He found early inspiration in country musicians, such as Hank Williams, who his father liked to listen to on the radio.
Frequenting second-hand stores with his mother, Isaak continued his musical education by buying used records and discovering first-hand the power of early rock 'n' roll—especially Elvis Presley's recordings for Sun Records. This life-changing experience helped to shape Isaak's enduring sound.
Isaak attended college at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Outside of his academic studies, he spent much of his time training at a boxing gym and fighting as a light heavyweight. Isaak later spent some time in Japan as an exchange student, and it was there that he first considered a career in music. Graduating in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in English and communications, Isaak moved to San Francisco.
He started out as a solo act, but in the early 1980s Isaak formed a rockabilly-influenced group called Silvertone. The early days were challenging as Isaak and the band played every Bay Area bar and club trying to make their name. Isaak's luck turned around when he caught the attention of producer Erik Jacobsen, best known for his work in the '60s with Lovin' Spoonful, Tim Hardin and Norman Greenbaum. With Jacobsen's help, Isaak scored a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records.
In 1985, Isaak released his debut album, Silvertone. The record received considerable critical praise, earned raves from other artists such as John Fogerty, and became a major commercial hit in a number of international markets. Backed by his bandmates—including drummer Kenney Dale Johnson and bassist Rowland Salley, who continue to play with him to this day—Isaak established a reputation as a crowdpleasing live performer wherever he went.
The singer's sophomore effort, the self-titled album Chris Isaak (1987), was certified gold in the United States and became a substantial hit overseas once again. Meanwhile, Isaak's live shows continued to help make him a star around the world.
Around this time, Isaak got a chance to meet one of his greatest influences: the legendary Roy Orbison. Isaak was honored when Orbison asked the young musician to serve as the opening act for Orbison's tour. After one particular performance, Isaak said to Orbison "I don't know if I write hits or not." Orbison told him, "You write hits, you just don't know it." As Isaak would later explain, the supportive words of the musical icon were "exactly what I needed to hear at the time." He referred to Orbison as "one of the nicest people I ever met."
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