Skip to main content
Select Source:

Isaak, Chris

Chris Isaak

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

Forged His Own Identity

Played Nightclubs

Wicked Game Led to National Fame

Success Beyond the Stage

Selected discography

Sources

Chris Isaaks moody, anachronistic music is an unlikely addition to the pop charts, but after years of near-obscurity the handsome Californian has achieved major stardom. Virtually since his debut album appeared in 1985, Isaak has had a cult followingand the raves of criticsbut he broke through to the publics attention in 1991 with the top ten hit Wicked Game. Since then Isaak has been quite happy to bring his jazz- and rockabilly-influenced sound to large theaters and concert halls.

Success was slow in coming to Isaak because he placed artistic merit before marketability. A number of his early albums failed to sell because his fifties-style rockers and ballads sounded so different from standard pop fare. Isaak told the Washington Post: I heard all those other records that didnt use any guitars and I heard all those guys who couldnt sing at all, and they didnt stick in my mind at all. I mean, do you think Wynton Marsalis wakes up every morning and says, Jazz is never going to sell as much as pop, so Im going to change what Im doing? No, you have to do what youre going to do. Im always going to make records where the emphasis is on a good song with the voice out front.

Forged His Own Identity

Unlikely as it seems, a singer-songwriter who plays the accordion and calls up images of Roy Orbison succeeded on his own terms. At one time Isaak and his band Silvertone were fixtures on the West Coast rock scene and were favorites of such Hollywood notables as Sean Penn and David Lynch. In fact, Lynchs inclusion of Isaaks music in the soundtracks of Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart helped launch the rocker on a national level. Critics have praised Isaaks music, however, even his debut album that sold only 14,000 copies on release. No one else has so successfully drawn from the past, with an artists eye, reassembling the disparate images, sounds, styles and artifacts of pop-culture history into one persona, wrote Michael Goldberg in Rolling Stone. Of course, Isaak would be just another two-bit Elvis clone if he didnt manage to transcend all the stagy photos, contrived outfits and retro minutiae. Sure, that stuff is fun; it has its charm. But what matters is his music, which is the genuine article.

Isaak grew up with a healthy distrust of fads and trends. He was raised in Stockton, California, a blue-collar town some 65 miles east of San Francisco. Isaak was a radio buff who wired his whole backyard in order to pull in esoteric stations from all over America and Canada. I listened to tons of stuff as a kid, he told the Boston Globe. Id listen to the radio very late at night, laying in bed. All through high school, people probably thought I was the worlds sleepiest guy or just a dummy. During the first three classes each day, I would just sleep because Id been up until 4:30 or 5 listening.

For the Record

Born in 1956 in Stockton, CA; son of a forklift operator. Education: Bachelors degree, University of the Pacific, 1980.

Formed band Silvertone with James Calvin Wilsey on guitar, Kenney Dale Johnson on drums, and Rowland Salley on bass, 1981; signed with Warner Bros. Records, released first album, Silvertone, 1985; had first top ten hit, Wicked Game, on multiplatinum-selling Heart Shaped World, 1991; released follow-up, San Francisco Days, 1993; released Forever Blue, 1995; released acoustic-based Baja Sessions, 1996; released Speak of the Devil, 1998; debut of The Chris Isaak Show on Showtime cable television network, 2001.

Addresses: Record company Reprise Records (Warner Bros.), 3300 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505, (818) 840-2405, website: http://www.repriserec.com. Website Chris Isaak Official Website: http://www.chrisisaak.com.

Despite his interest in music, Isaak never considered pursuing a singing career. Still, he had an instinct for the offbeat style and a stubborn pride in his individuality. After high school he enrolled at the University of the Pacific, where he studied filmmaking, English, and journalism. He also boxed, mostly as an amateur, and had his nose broken seven times. I was definitely on the outside, Isaak told the Chicago Tribune of his college years. Id drive across town over to the old Santa Fe Depot on the south side of Stockton and box all day, and it was all blacks and Mexicans and a couple of white trash guys like myself, and then Id go across town to this university and it was all these upper-crusty guys with that Poupon kind of mustard. I didnt really fit in with either side.

Isaak cultivated an artistic look by dressing in bizarre thrift shop clothing from other eras. He became devoted to music in 1979 while spending a semester in Japan. There was this Elvis song that really knocked me out called Til Never Let You Go, Isaak said in the Washington Post I liked the song so much that I sang it and sang it. One day, the Japanese lady that lived downstairs from me started singing it too. She couldnt speak English. She had learned it phonetically from hearing me. Thats when I decided to give singing a try.

After graduating from college, Isaak moved to San Francisco, California. When I came down from Stockton, I was pathetic, he told the Washington Post I had this bright lime green suit with black velvet buttons. I thought that was how musicians dressed; I didnt really know. I kept going down to this nightclub and standing outside the door until they eventually said, Do you want to come in for free? Then Id go in and look for people who looked like someone who might want to be in my band.

Played Nightclubs

By 1981 Isaak had formed a small band called Silvertone. The group played in the San Francisco nightclubs and bars, alternating fifties hits with more and more of Isaaks original material. They literally began at the bottom but soon became favorites in the Bay Area. Producer Erik Jacobsen became a big Silvertone fan and eventually helped to secure a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. The debut album, Silver-tone, was released in 1985.

The nations pop music critics simply loved Silvertone. Washington Post contributor Joe Sasfy wrote: Chris Isaaks Silvertone is not only one of the most striking debut albums of the year, it is also one of the few albums of the 80s offering a thoroughly contemporary rock sound fashioned from Americas musical roots. Goldberg called the work terrific, praising its sparse, Sun Sessions-like production, twanging Duane Eddy-ish guitar playing and Isaaks romantic, larger-than-life voice.

The accolades notwithstanding, Isaaks first album and his second, Chris Isaak sold very few copies at first and received almost no radio airplay. Some influential people did notice Isaak, howeverLynch, for one, and rocker John Fogerty, who called Isaak a skyscraper against the landscape. Even Roy Orbison befriended Isaak and began writing a few songs with him before Orbisons fatal heart attack.

Inevitably Isaak was compared to Orbison, and to Presley, due to his falsetto vocals and moody tunes about love gone sour. Isaak is frankly uncomfortable with the comparison. For one thing, his music has a distinctive contemporary edge, even though its style harks back to earlier years. Furthermore, Isaak is simply unwilling to try to fill someone elses shoes. When you compare somebody to Roy Orbison or Elvis, its like parking a speedboat next to the Queen Mary, he told the Boston Globe. What I do is nice, but Im not trying to compare to those guys, because it makes my work look tiny. I have hopes that if I keep working hard, some day Ill have a couple of songs thatll add something to music. But Id drive myself crazy if I thought I had to be like Elvis or Orbison, because I just dont think its possible. Those guys are once in a generation.

Wicked Game Led to National Fame

Isaaks third album, Heart Shaped World, seemed destined to follow its two predecessors into obscurity. Fortunately for Isaak, a disc jockey in Atlanta heard the instrumental version of the rockers Wicked Game in the soundtrack of Lynchs film Wild at Heart and decided to track down the original song. The deejay then added Wicked Game to his stations playlist, and before long, requests for the tune were pouring in. A single was released, and it slowly climbed into the Billboard top ten, pulling the album along after it. Two years after its release, Heart Shaped World emerged as Isaaks first gold album, and Wicked Game became his first hit. The album has since achieved multiplatinum sales.

Isaak then moved from nightclubs to large theaters and the realms of MTV. After years of playing to avid fans and very few others, Isaak is pleased as punch, wrote Sam Wood in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hes finally found his audience. Several different audiences, actually. Those audiences responded warmly to Isaaks wild rockers and his heart-rending ballads. Isaak has had his share of broken romances, and he explores his own personal pain in his lyrics. A lot of times its just stuff that I cant say to anybody, he told the Chicago Tribune of his songs. Those ideas get stuck in my head and the only way I can say em is in music. The way I write, I sit down with a guitar, and usually its in the dark, and I just start singing like Im talking to myself. It all comes out at one time, the melody and the words.

Isaak followed the success of his third album with San Francisco Days in 1993. Again working with Jacobsen as producer, Isaak explored emotional highs and lows that move from cautious joy to haunting heartbreak within seconds, according to Billboards Melinda Newman. Isaaks 1995 follow-up, Forever Blue, echoed more of his characteristically melancholy moods in a collection of what Andrew Abrahams of People magazine deemed tender odes for the lovelorn. Baja Sessions, released in 1996, included acoustic-based versions of earlier work along with new songs I Wonder and Return to Me. Speak of the Devil, released in 1998, originated in studio sessions, a departure from Isaaks usual songwriting method of lying in bed with his guitar and recording the songs in his garage. I wanted to be very experimental this time, use lots of different sounds and be more rockin, Isaak said in comments included at his official website. The success of Speak of the Devil was driven by the single Please.

Success Beyond the Stage

Now that stardom has found him, Isaak has branched into film and television work. He has appeared in such films as Wild at Heart in 1988, Silence of the Lambs in 1991, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992, Little Buddha in 1993, That Thing You Do! in 1996, and Blue Ridge Fall in 1999, and he has also made guest appearances on such popular television series as Melrose Place and Friends. His own television show, The Chris Isaak Show, debuted on cables Showtime network on March 12, 2001. The show is a loosely factual take on Isaaks life as a rock star with a comedie bent.

Though Isaac has found success beyond music, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he is not at all interested in changing careers. Id never give up music, because I like to sing more than anything, he said. More than anything. People always ask me, What do you do on your time off? I tell em I sing, cause thats what I like to do. Call me a one-dimensional shallow person, but if I got time off, I grab my guitar and play some more.

Selected discography

Silvertone, Warner Bros., 1985.

(Contributor) Blue Velvet (soundtrack), Varese, 1986.

Chris Isaak, Warner Bros., 1987.

Heart Shaped World, Reprise, 1989.

(Contributor) Wild at Heart (soundtrack), Polydor, 1990.

San Francisco Days, Reprise, 1993.

(Contributor) A Perfect World (soundtrack), Reprise, 1993.

(Contributor) If s Now or Never: The Tribute to Elvis, Mercury, 1994.

Forever Blue, Reprise, 1995.

Baja Sessions, Reprise, 1996.

(Contributor) Tin Cup (soundtrack), Sony, 1996.

(Contributor) Beautiful Girls (soundtrack), Elektra, 1996.

Speak of the Devil, Reprise, 1998.

(Contributor) Eyes Wide Shut (soundtrack), Warner Bros., 1999.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, April 3, 1993.

Boston Globe, July 6, 1989; March 3, 1991; May 10, 1991.

Chicago Tribune, April 28, 1991; May 19, 1991.

People, June 12, 1995.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 17, 1991; May 20, 1991.

Rolling Stone, June 20, 1985; May 21, 1987.

Washington Post, August 15, 1985; May 12, 1987; May 17, 1991.

Online

Chris Isaak, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (June 8, 2001).

Chris Isaak Official Website, http://www.chrisisaak.com (June 8, 2001).

Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com (June 7, 2001).

Recording Industry Association of America, http://www.riaa.com (June 8, 2001).

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Isaak, Chris." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Isaak, Chris." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/isaak-chris-0

"Isaak, Chris." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/isaak-chris-0

Isaak, Chris

Chris Isaak

Singer, songwriter, instrumentalist

Forged His Own Identity

Played Nightclubs

Wicked Game Led to National Fame

Selected discography

Sources

Chris Isaaks moody, anachronistic music is an unlikely addition to the pop charts, but after years of near-obscurity the handsome Californian is on the brink of major stardom. Virtually since his debut album appeared in 1985 Isaak has had a cult followingand the raves of criticsbut he broke through to the publics attention in 1991 with the top ten hit Wicked Game. Since then Isaak has been quite happy to bring his jazz- and rockabilly-influenced sound to large theaters and concert halls. Im doing the same thing, but more people are watching, he told the Boston Globe. Its real strange to me that its happened so quick. Weve been doing this for years, but it just seems like all of a sudden people are showing up and paying attention. But you know, were diggin it.

Success has been slow in coming to Isaak because he places artistic merit before marketability. A number of his early albums failed to sell because his fifties-style rockers and ballads sounded so different from standard pop fare. Isaak told the Washington Post: I heard all those other records that didnt use any guitars and I heard all those guys who couldnt sing at all, and they didnt stick in my mind at all. I mean, do you think Wynton Marsalis wakes up every morning and says, Jazz is never going to sell as much as pop, so Im going to change what Im doing? No, you have to do what youre going to do. Im always going to make records where the emphasis is on a good song with the voice out front.

Forged His Own Identity

Unlikely as it seems, a singer-songwriter who plays the accordion and calls up images of Roy Orbison has succeeded on his own terms. At one time Isaak and his band Silvertone were fixtures on the West Coast rock scene and were favorites of such Hollywood notables as actor-turned-director Sean Penn and director David Lynch. In fact, Lynchs inclusion of Isaaks music in the soundtracks of Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart helped launch the rocker on a national level. Critics have always praised Isaaks music, however, even though his debut album sold only 14,000 copies on release. No one else has so successfully drawn from the past, with an artists eye, reassembling the disparate images, sounds, styles and artifacts of pop-culture history into one persona, wrote Michael Goldberg in Rolling Stone. Of course, Isaak would be just another two-bit Elvis clone if he didnt manage to transcend all the stagy photos, contrived outfits and retro minutiae. Sure, that stuff is fun; it has its charm. But what matters is his music, which is the genuine article.

Isaak grew up with a healthy distrust of fads and trends.

For the Record

Born in 1956 in Stockton, CA; son of a forklift operator. Education: University of the Pacific, B.A., 1980.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, 1980. With James Calvin Wilsey (guitar), Kenney Dale Johnson (drums), and Rowland Salley (bass), formed band Silvertone, 1981; signed with Warner Bros. Records c. 1985, and released first album, Silvertone, 1985. Had first Top Ten hit, Wicked Game, 1991. Songs have been featured in the film soundtracks of Blue Velvet, De Laurentis, 1986, and Wild at Heart, 1990. Amateur boxer c. 1976-80.

Addresses: Record company Reprise (Warner Bros.), 3300 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91510.

He was raised in Stockton, California, a blue-collar town some sixty-five miles east of San Francisco. Isaak was a radio buff who wired his whole back yard in order to pull in esoteric stations from all over America and Canada. I listened to tons of stuff as a kid, he told the Boston Globe. Id listen to the radio very late at night, laying in bed. All through high school, people probably thought I was the worlds sleepiest guy or just a dummy. During the first three classes each day, I would just sleep because Id been up until 4:30 or 5 listening.

Despite his interest in music, Isaak never considered pursuing a singing career. Still, he had an instinct for the offbeat style and a stubborn pride in his individuality. After high school he enrolled at the University of the Pacific, where he studied filmmaking, English, and journalism. He also boxed, mostly as an amateur, and had his nose broken seven times. I was definitely on the outside, Isaak told the Chicago Tribune of his college years. Id drive across town over to the old Santa Fe Depot on the south side of Stockton and box all day, and it was all blacks and Mexicans and a coupie of white trash guys like myself, and then Id go across town to this university and it was all these upper-crusty guys with that Poupon kind of mustard. I didnt really fit in with either side.

Isaak cultivated an artistic look by dressing in bizarre thrift shop clothing from other eras. He became devoted to music in 1979, when he was spending a semester in Japan. There was this Elvis song that really knocked me out called Ill Never Let You Go, Isaak said in the Washington Post. I liked the song so much that I sang it and sang it. One day, the Japanese lady that lived downstairs from me started singing it too. She couldnt speak English. She had learned it phonetically from hearing me. Thats when I decided to give singing a try.

After graduating from college, Isaak moved to San Francisco. When I came down from Stockton, I was pathetic, he told the Washington Post. I had this bright lime green suit with black velvet buttons. I thought that was how musicians dressed; I didnt really know. I kept going down to this nightclub and standing outside the door until they eventually said, Do you want to come in for free?Then Id go in and look for people who looked like someone who might want to be in my band.

Played Nightclubs

By 1981 Isaak had formed a small band called Silvertone. The group played in the San Francisco nightclubs and bars, alternating fifties hits with more and more of Isaaks original material. They literally began at the bottom but soon became favorites in the Bay area. Producer Erik Jacobsen became a big Silvertone fan and eventually helped to secure a recording contract with Warner Brothers Records. The debut album, Silvertone, was released in 1985.

The nations pop music critics simply loved Silvertone. Washington Post contributor Joe Sasfy wrote: Chris Isaaks Silvertone is not only one of the most striking debut albums of the year, it is also one of the few albums of the 80s offering a thoroughly contemporary rock sound fashioned from Americas musical roots. Goldberg called the work terrific, praising its sparse, Sun Sessions-like production, twanging Duane Eddy-ish guitar playing and Isaaks romantic, larger-than-life voice.

The accolades notwithstanding, Isaaks first albumand his second, Chris Isaak sold very few copies at first and received almost no radio air time. Some influential people did notice Isaak, howeverLynch, for one, and rocker John Fogerty, who called Isaak a skyscraper against the landscape. Even Roy Orbison befriended Isaak and began writing a few songs with him before Orbisons fatal heart attack.

Inevitably Isaak was compared to Orbison, and to Presley, due to his falsetto vocals and moody tunes about love gone sour. Isaak is frankly uncomfortable with the comparison. For one thing, his music has a distinctive contemporary edge, even though its style harks back to earlier years. Furthermore, Isaak is simply unwilling to try to fill someone elses shoes. When you compare somebody to Roy Orbison or Elvis, its like parking a speedboat next to the Queen Mary, he told the Boston Globe. What I do is nice, but Im not trying to compare to those guys, because it makes my work look tiny. I have hopes that if I keep working hard, some day Ill have a couple of songs thatll add something to music. But Id drive myself crazy if I thought I had to be like Elvis or Orbison, because I just dont think its possible. Those guys are once in a generation.

Wicked Game Led to National Fame

Isaaks third album, Heart Shaped World, seemed destined to follow its two predecessors into obscurity. Fortunately for Isaak, a disk jockey in Atlanta heard the instrumental version of the rockers Wicked Game in the soundtrack of Lynchs Wild at Heart and decided to track down the original song. The DJ then added Wicked Game to his stations playlist, and before long requests for the tune were pouring in. A single was released, and it slowly climbed into the Billboard top ten, pulling the album along after it. Two years after its release, Heart Shaped World emerged as Isaaks first gold album, and Wicked Game became his first hit.

Isaak has since moved from nightclubs to large theaters and the realms of MTV. After years of playing to avid fans and very few others, Isaak is pleased as punch, wrote Sam Wood in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hes finally found his audience. Several different audiences, actually. Those audiences are responding warmly to Isaaks wild rockers and his heart-rending ballads. Isaak has had his share of broken romances, and he explores his own personal pain in his lyrics. A lot of times its just stuff that I cant say to anybody, he told the Chicago Tribune of his songs. Those ideas get stuck in my head and the only way I can say em is in music. The way I write, I sit down with a guitar, and usually its in the dark, and I just start singing like Im talking to myself. It all comes out at one time, the melody and the words.

Now that stardom has found him, Isaak is besieged with film and television offers, some of them quite tempting. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer, however, that he is not at all interested in changing careers. Id never give up music, because I like to sing more than anything, he said. More than anything. People always ask me, What do you do on your time off? I tell em I sing, cause thats what I like to do. Call me a one-dimensional shallow person, but if I got time off, I grab my guitar and play some more.

Selected discography

Silvertone, Warner Bros., 1985.

Chris Isaak, Warner Bros., 1987.

Heart Shaped World, Reprise, 1989.

Sources

Periodicals

Boston Globe, July 6, 1989; March 3, 1991; May 10, 1991.

Chicago Tribune, April 28, 1991; May 19, 1991.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 17, 1991; May 20, 1991.

Rolling Stone, June 20, 1985; May 21, 1987.

Washington Post, August 15, 1985; May 12, 1987; May 17, 1991.

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Isaak, Chris." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Isaak, Chris." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/isaak-chris

"Isaak, Chris." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/isaak-chris

Isaak, Chris

CHRIS ISAAK

Born: Stockton, California, 26 June 1956

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Forever Blue (1995)

Hit songs since 1990: "Wicked Game," "Somebody's Crying," "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing"


Athrowback inspired by 1950s rock, country, and rockabilly, Chris Isaak became a distinctive and enduring male solo artist in the 1990s while also carving a career in film and television. The son of a forklift operator, Isaak received his first guitar at the age of fifteen. Isaak and his brother Nick performed frequently for their parents, specializing in country ballads as well as the classic tunes of 1950s crooner Roy Orbison. Isaak attended the University of the Pacific and held down a variety of jobs, including movie-studio tour guide, film extra, and boxer, which left him with his noticeably flattened nose.

In college Isaak became enthralled by Sun Sessions (1976), the seminal collection of Elvis Presley's 1954 and 1955 recordings. He relocated to San Francisco and formed his first band, a rockabilly outfit named the Silvertones. At this stage Isaak, a struggling artist, began wearing retro country-and-western outfits, courtesy of his local thrift store.

Isaak attracted the attention of Warner Bros. Records, which signed the young singer to a recording contract in 1985 and released his debut album, Silvertone, that same year, and its follow-up, Chris Isaak (1986). Both albums invoked a variety of time-honored sounds, from country blues to more modern R&B, but neither album thrived commercially.

In 1989 Isaak released his third album, Heart-Shaped World. Like its predecessors, the album was initially a commercial disappointment. The following year the director David Lynch used an instrumental version of the haunting track "Wicked Game" in his movie Wild at Heart (1990). An Atlanta DJ sought out the full track and started a radio frenzy that sent the song to number six on the Billboard charts in 1991. "Wicked Game" was one of the more unusual radio hits of the 1990s. A sparse ballad with moody country guitars, it features Isaak sexily drawling lines such as "The world was on fire, and no one could save me but you / It's strange what desire will make foolish people do," reaching a crescendo on the chorus with the falsetto-delivered, "No, I don't want to fall in love."

Isaak's unique features, especially his flat nose and greased-up, rockabilly haircut, attracted the attention of Hollywood, which gave him bit parts in movies such as The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). Isaak also scored a leading role in Little Buddha (1993).

In 1993 Isaak released San Francisco Days, which featured the minor hit "Can't Do a Thing (To Stop Me)." The follow-up album, Forever Blue (1995), was Isaak's most popular of the decade, selling 1 million copies. A concept album centered on his breakup with a longtime girlfriend, Forever Blue runs the gamut of emotions, from extreme melancholy to raw anger. The album features the wistful hit "Somebody's Crying," with its simple plea: "Please, return the love you took from me." Forever Blue also features a dark boogie-rocker entitled "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing." "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing" presents Isaak at his most emotionally raw; over a snakelike guitar, a tense Isaak seethes with anger at his former lover: "You ever toss and turn your lying awake and thinking about the one you love?/ I don't think so." "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing" enjoyed a second life when the director Stanley Kubrick featured the song in his 1999 movie Eyes Wide Shut.

Isaak's subsequent albums, Baja Sessions (1996) and Speak of the Devil (1996), each sold more than 500,000 copies, further establishing Isaak as a commercially viable artist. Isaak continued to delve into acting on the side, scoring roles in the movies Grace of My Heart (1996) and That Thing You Do! (1996) as well as the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon (1998). In 2001 the Showtime cable network launched The Chris Isaak Show, an irreverent comedy series about the life of a rock star; the show gave him the opportunity to act and perform musically. In 2002 Isaak released Always Got Tonight, his eighth studio album, which features the minor hit "Let Me Down Easy." During the 1990s Chris Isaak carved a unique niche in pop culture, parlaying his affection for the 1950s into a distinctive style that led to multimedia celebrity.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Silvertone (Warner, 1985); Chris Isaak (Warner, 1986); Heart-Shaped World (Reprise, 1989); San Francisco Days (Reprise, 1993); Forever Blue (Reprise, 1995); Baja Sessions (Reprise, 1996); Speak of the Devil (Reprise, 1998); Always Got Tonight (Reprise, 2002).

scott tribble

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Isaak, Chris." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Isaak, Chris." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/isaak-chris

"Isaak, Chris." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/isaak-chris

Isaak, Chris 1956–

ISAAK, Chris 1956


PERSONAL


Full name, Christopher Joseph Isaak; born June 26, 1956, in Stockton, CA; son of Joe (a forklift driver) and Dorothy (a factory worker) Isaak. Education: University of Pacific, Stockton, CA, B.A., English and communications, 1980; also studied in Japan for one year.


Addresses: Agent IFA Talent Agency, 8730 Sunset Blvd., Suite 490, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Manager HK Management, 9200 Sunset Blvd., Suite 530, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Career: Musician, actor, and producer. Amateur boxer, 197680. With James Calvin Wilsey, Kenney Dale Johnson, and Rowland Salley, formed band Silvertone, 1981.


CREDITS

Film Appearances:

Let's Get Lost (documentary), 1988.

Arrowhead the clown, Married to the Mob, Orion, 1988.

SWAT commander, The Silence of the Lambs, Orion, 1991.

FBI Special Agent Chester Desmond, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (also known as Twin Peaks ), New Line Cinema, 1992.

Dean Conrad, Little Buddha, 1993.

Matthew Lewis, Grace of My Heart, Gramercy, 1996.

Uncle Bob, That Thing You Do!, Twentieth CenturyFox, 1996.

Emerson, Shepherd (also known as The End of Innocence and Blue Ridge Fall ), APix Entertainment, 1999.

Television Appearances; Series:

Himself, The Chris Isaak Show, Showtime, 2001.


Also appeared as correspondent, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Astronaut Edward White II, From the Earth to the Moon, HBO, 1998.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Roy Orbison Tribute to Benefit the Homeless, Showtime, 1990.

CocaCola Pop Music "Backstage Pass to Summer, " Fox, 1991.

Independence Day Concert, ABC, 1993.

"Addicted to Fame," First Person with Maria Shriver, NBC, 1994.

ABC's Independence Day Concert, ABC, 1995.

LIFEbeat Benefit ConcertThe Beat Goes on 2, VH1, 1995.

Ed White, From the Earth to the Moon (miniseries), HBO, 1998.

An AllStar Tribute to Johnny Cash, TNT, 1999.

The Politically Incorrect After Party, ABC, 2000.

MTV20: Kiss and Tell: 20 Years of Making Out on MTV, MTV, 2001.

From the Waist Down: Men, Women & Music, VH1, 2001.

Elvis Lives, NBC, 2002.

Himself/host, 100 Greatest Videos, 2003.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Himself, The MTV Video Music Awards 1991, 1991.

The 38th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1996.

Presenter, Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, 1997.

Presenter, The 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards, VH1, 1998.

Himself, My VH1 Music Awards '01, VH1, 2001.

The 7th Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2001.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Himself, "The P.A.," The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1995.

Rob Donnen, "The One After the Super Bowl," Friends, NBC, 1996.

Himself, "Ryan's Choice," Melrose Place, Fox, 1999.

Himself, The Panel, Ten Network, 1999.

Himself, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2001.

Himself, "Cannes Festival 2002," Leute heute, 2002.


Also appeared as Jamie Decker, Ed, NBC.

Television Work; Series:

Executive producer, The Chris Isaak Show, Showtime, 2001.

RECORDINGS

Albums:

Silvertone, Warner Bros., 1985.

Chris Isaak, Warner Bros., 1987.

Heart Shaped World, Warner Bros., 1991.

San Francisco Days, Reprise, 1993.

Forever Blue, 1996.

Baja Sessions, 1996.

Speak of the Devil, Reprise, 1998.

Always Got Tonight, Reprise, 2002.


Also recorded songs featured in the film soundtracks of Blue Velvet, Modern Girls, North Shore, Shag: The Movie, Married to the Mob, Wild at Heart, The Cutting Edge, Leaving Normal, A Perfect World, Tin Cup, Eyes Wide Shut, and Fools Rush In; also featured in the television movie soundtrack of The Preppie Murder.


OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 33, Gale Group, 2002.

Periodicals:

Cosmopolitan, January, 1994, pp. 6466.

Entertainment Weekly, March 16, 2001, p. 53.

Esquire, January, 1996, pp. 112115.

Interview, March, 1993, p. 126.

People Weekly, May 13, 1991, p. 111; November 15, 1999, p. 136.

Rolling Stone, May 21, 1987, p. 55; April 18, 1991, p. 29.

Texas Monthly, July, 2002, p. 36.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Isaak, Chris 1956–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Isaak, Chris 1956–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/isaak-chris-1956

"Isaak, Chris 1956–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/isaak-chris-1956