Montana native Chan Romero, who wrote 'The Hippy Hippy Shake,' has died

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Posted at 1:25 PM, Apr 22, 2024

Robert Lee "Chan" Romero, a Billings native and rock 'n' roll singer best known for his original song "The Hippy Hippy Shake," has died, according to a post on his official Facebook page.

The post was made over the weekend and did not list a cause or date of death. He was living in southern California.

Romero, 82, was born in Billings in 1941 and graduated from Billings Senior High School.

After high school, he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, where he wrote "The Hippy Hippy Shake" at the age of 17.

That led to his signing with Del Fi Records, the same label that had signed Latino superstar Richie Valens. His song was later covered by the Beatles and other big bands.

“Elvis had a strong effect on me. It just took me over and I said this is what I want to do,” Romero told MTN News in 2023 in a video interview from his home in southern California.

Romero is also the first Latino to be inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

“The Hippy Hippy Shake” didn’t make the charts for Romero in the United States, but it zoomed up to number three in Australia. And it didn’t take long for other artists to notice it. It was a big hit for the Swinging Blue Jeans and was also covered by the Beatles.

“It’s amazing, especially when I heard that Paul McCartney picked it up and it became one of him and the Beatles' very favorites,” Romero told MTN News in March 2023.

Romero recorded a remake of his signature song with Zelimir that was released last year as a tribute to Romero and the song he wrote 65 years ago.