Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rant #934: "Rock" Is Here To Stay

At times, I enjoy looking through my record collection and seeing what I have accumulated over the years.

Today, I am going to talk about one of those recordings, by an "artist" that was certainly one of the strangest presences on the scene in the 1960s--and who finally made it big, for a fleeting moment, in the 1970s.

Sir Monti Rock II!, or just plain Monti Rock, was one of the most flamboyant, outlandish personalities of the swinging '60s.

Having no discernible talent at all--he was a hairdresser by trade and owned a chain of hair salons--the former Joseph Montanez Jr. somehow wove himself into the scene of the time, and he turned up on all the major talk shows, including "The Tonight Show" and Merv Griffin's chatfest.

He was the male version of Zsa Zsa Gabor--seemingless talentless--but he could talk ... and talk ... and talk about nothing at all and make it funny.

Think of him as a male Kim Khardashian, to put it in the proper current context.

He was flamboyant, with wild hair, clothes and jewelry that all came together on one body. He had a ponytail before most men would even think of such a thing. And the same thing went for earrings, which he wore way before many men started to do so.

He talked about his problems, his family, anything that came to mind, and people absolutely loved to hear his stories.

Somehow, he got a recording contract with Mercury Records, and put out one single in 1965, "For Days and Days" with the B side being "Trouble."

The single, including a picture sleeve with Rock on the cover, went absolutely nowhere, even though listening to it 48 years after its release, it really isn't that terrible. Actually, it is fairly good, but it just got lost in the shuffle during an era when the Beatles reigned supreme.

It has since become, to some, a Northern soul classic, or a record that missed out on the big time when it first came out, but can get people on the dance floor, even now.

Flash forward a couple of years. Rock was still a staple on the talk show circuit, but the world was changing. He continued to be a show biz insider/outsider, having no discernible talent but sticking around, seemingly until the time was right.

And the time WAS right in 1974.

The burgeoning disco music scene was starting to formulate, first in gay nightclubs but then moving out into the overall scene. Producer Bob Crewe saw this movement happening, and to tap into what he felt was going to be the next big thing, he decided to assemble a studio group to record some dance-oriented tracks.

And "Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes" was born, and the lead singer was "Disco Tex" himself, one Monti Rock.

In late 1974, the first breakthrough disco record--the project's "Get Dancin'--was released, and eventually made No. 10 on the Billboard singles charts.

Rock was now a certified star as the lead singer of this pretty much fictional band. He even appeared in a brief role in "Saturday Night Fever" as the disk jockey.

The project went on to have a few other singles that made the Hot 100--"I Wanna Dance Wit' Choo (Doo Dat Dance) (Part 1)," "Jam Band, and "Dancin' Kid," but by 1977 or so, it was all over for Disco Tex.

Most of the talk shows moved to California by this time, but Rock didn't move with them, so he was one of those personalities that pretty much faded off the face of the earth.

He has kept a pretty low profile--for him--since the late 1970s. The last I heard, he actually moved from New York, to Las Vegas, and became a minister.

That is the last I heard of him.

But for brief moments in the 1960s and 1970s, you couldn't turn on late night TV without seeing this guy, on various shows, talking about nothing and making people laugh, laugh, and laugh some more.

Sir Monti Rock III, I salute you, and to those reading this, take a listen to his first single and tell me what you think of it.

Like Rock, it's a little bit of nothing that really catches your ear.

By the way, his website can be visited at

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