Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater
Background information
Birth name Christopher Joseph Isaak
Born June 26, 1956 (1956-06-26) (age 55)
Stockton, California
Genres Rock n' roll, roots rock, rockabilly, surf rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, actor, talk show host
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1984–present
Labels Warner Bros. Records

Christopher Joseph "Chris" Isaak (born June 26, 1956)[1] is an American rock musician and occasional actor.


Early life

Isaak was born in Stockton, California,[1] the son of Dorothy (née Vignolo), a potato chip factory worker, and Joe Isaak, a forklift driver. Isaak's mother is Italian American, originating from Genoa.[2] Isaak's father is German American.[citation needed]



Isaak signed a contract to Warner Bros. Records in 1984 for his first album Silvertone.[1] The tracks "Gone Ridin'" and "Livin' for Your Lover", from this album, were featured in David Lynch's cult classic Blue Velvet. Isaak's second self-titled album Chris Isaak was photographed by fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Isaak's contract was renewed in 1988 when Warner Bros. moved him to their Reprise Records label.

Chris Isaak onstage in Berkeley, California - 1986

His best-known song is "Wicked Game."[1] Though released on the 1989 album Heart Shaped World, an instrumental version of the song was later featured in the 1990 David Lynch film Wild at Heart.[1] Lee Chesnut, an Atlanta radio station music director who was obsessed with Lynch films, began playing the vocal version and it quickly became the station's most-requested song. Chesnut spread the word to other radio stations around the country and the single became a national Top 10 hit in February 1991. The music video for the song was directed by Herb Ritts and was a big MTV and VH1 hit; shot in black and white, it starred Isaak and Danish supermodel Helena Christensen rolling on the beach, embracing and whispering in each other's ears. Another less-seen version of the "Wicked Game" is directed by David Lynch and comprises scenes from the film Wild at Heart. "Wicked Game" also featured as the backing music in the 2001 TV advert for the Jaguar X-Type range of cars in the UK. In 1995 Isaak split with long time guitarist James Calvin Wilsey, and that year's Forever Blue and the accompanying tour featured Hershel Yatovitz on guitar.

In 1999, Isaak's "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" was featured in Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The song is on his 1995 album Forever Blue. The music video for the song is directed by Herb Ritts, it was shot in color, it starred Isaak and French supermodel Laetitia Casta in a motel room. This was Isaak's second collaboration with Ritts.

Isaak also composed a theme song for U.S. late-night television variety/talk show, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. In 2001, Isaak starred in his own television show, The Chris Isaak Show. It aired from March 2001 to March 2004 in the United States on the cable television network Showtime. This adult comedy show featured Chris Isaak and his band playing themselves and the episode plots were based on fictional accounts of the backstage world of Chris Isaak—the rock star next door. In 2004, his track "Life Will Go On" was featured on Chasing Liberty's soundtrack, which starred Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode. His track "Two Hearts" was featured in the closing credits of the 1993 film True Romance, directed by Tony Scott, written by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette.

Isaak's longtime producer, Erik Jacobsen, was instrumental in his sound for 15 years. Jacobsen is known for his production work with The Lovin' Spoonful, and solo albums from Spoonful's John Sebastian and Jerry Yester. Isaak ceased working with Jacobsen on his 2002 album, Always Got Tonight. In 2007 Isaak opened for Stevie Nicks on her Crystal Visions Tour during the first leg of the tour.

Isaak was ranked #68 on VH1's 100 Sexiest Artists.

Isaak collaborated with John Shanks for his 2009 album Mr. Lucky.

Isaak has recently contributed a cover of Buddy Holly's "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" for the upcoming tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly to be released on September 6th, 2011.

Isaak recently released an album called Beyond the Sun, which was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee at the Sun Records studio.


Isaak at a USO show in Washington, D.C.

Isaak revealed in a 2002 interview with Acoustic Guitar that he uses a one-of-a-kind Gibson:

For my electric, I've got a one-off Gibson version of a Gretsch 6120, a sort of Chet Atkins thing. They made one of these things and gave it to me to see if I liked it, and I liked it so much I've been playing it ever since. People told me they thought it was a White Falcon, but it's not. It's just a white Gibson. I don't think they ever manufactured any of the things. They strung up this one prototype, scratched their heads, and said, 'Huh. Give it to Isaak.'[3]

Isaak also plays a Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar, which he uses for songwriting.[4]

Acting and other work

Isaak has also appeared in numerous films, mostly playing minor cameo roles, though he starred with Keanu Reeves and Bridget Fonda in the 1993 Bernardo Bertolucci-directed Little Buddha, and also played a major role in David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). Other motion pictures include Married to the Mob (1988), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), That Thing You Do! (1996), and A Dirty Shame (2004).

Isaak starred in The Chris Isaak Show (2001–2004) playing himself and featuring actual members of his band along with numerous celebrity guests. He also guest-starred on the "The One After the Superbowl, Part One", the Super Bowl XXX edition of the television sitcom Friends; and on the HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, as astronaut Ed White, the first American astronaut to leave the confines of his spacecraft who later died in the Apollo 1 fire.

The Biography Channel aired The Chris Isaak Hour, a one-hour music interview and performance show in 2009.[5] The series premiere featured Trisha Yearwood, and included the first ever performance of "Breaking Apart", a duet from Isaak's new album, Mr. Lucky. Additional guests included Stevie Nicks, Smashing Pumpkins, Chicago, Glen Campbell, Michael Bublé, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), and Jewel.

In April, 2010, Isaak was the special guest during Conan O'Brien's The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour performance at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, California.





  1. ^ a b c d e Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 480–481. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Acoustic Guitar Central". What They Play: Chris Isaak. Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  4. ^ by Dave on August 6th, 2008 (2008-08-06). "Chris Isaak and His Gibson Guitars". Fretbase. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  5. ^ "The Biography Channel's ''The Chris Isaak Hour'' website". 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 

External links

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