Chris Isaak was born Christopher Joseph Isaak on June 26, 1956 in Stockton, California. Chris's mother, Dorothy, claims her son showed musical intuition from as early as eight months of age, after she noticed Isaak would be emotionally moved by the sad country songs that he would hear on the radio.
From 2001-2004, Isaak starred in The Chris Isaak Show on the Showtime cable network. Isaak and his band portrayed themselves in the adult comedy. When questioned whether the sitcom come faux reality-show was in anyway a reflection of his real life, Isaak responded: "If it was untrue but funny, we'd lie. Verisimilitude and reality are low, hijinks and mirth are high. If it was funnier, I'd play a dentist."
Isaak was an amateur boxer and had his nose broken seven times! He told Discussions Magazine that his boxing pals had an affectionate nickname for him: "Because when I started off, I thought I looked a little like Elvis when I combed my hair back. When I was boxing, everybody who was on my boxing team, their nickname for me was Elvis."
Isaak is also an actor, getting his start when he was boxing in Japan, where he was often cast as a tough guy. Some of the movies Isaak appeared in include Little Buddha, Fire Walk with Me, Married to the Mob, The Silence Of The Lambs, That Thing You Do! and A Dirty Shame. He also guest-starred on the 1996 Super Bowl Sunday edition of the TV show Friends.
Isaak wrote the theme song for US late-night television show The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.
Isaak signed to Warner Bros Records in 1984 and released his debut album, Silvertone, in 1985.
Isaak's music regularly features in David Lynch films. "Gone Ridin'" and "Livin' for Your Lover" were both featured in Lynch's 1986 cult film, Blue Velvet. Isaak's breakthrough came after "Wicked Game" was featured in Lynch's 1990 movie, Wild At Heart. Isaak also played Special Agent Chester Desmond in Lynch's 1992 film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
The black and white video for "Wicked Game," directed by Herb Ritts, features Chris Isaak frolicking on a beach with supermodel, Helena Christensen. In our interview with Chris
, he told us, "I think I got the overflow of Helena Christensen's sexiness and I was painted with the same brush."
In 2009, The Biography Channel aired The Chris Isaak Hour, a one-hour talk show with musical guests including Stevie Nicks, Smashing Pumpkins, Glenn Campbell, Michael Bublé and Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens). Isaak told us presenting the show helped inspire his own music: "As soon as you work with people like that and you get done talking to Smashing Pumpkins, you come off the show, you want to go home and write. You work with Stevie Nicks or Glen Campbell, you want to come home and you want to pick up your guitar and sing. It's exciting."
Isaak's favorite electric guitar is a one-off prototype designed by Gibson. Chris spoke to Acoustic Guitar Magazine about his treasured instrument: "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.'" For a time, Isaak was also seen playing an acoustic guitar with "I [heart] Carole L" written across it - referring to his childhood sweetheart, Carole Lowe, who died from cancer in 1999.
Isaak was ranked #68 on VH1's 100 Sexiest Artists. In our interview with Chris, we asked how he felt about featuring on the list: "I laughed - I'll tell you something. I mean, I'm thrilled that that kind of stuff happened, because when I was growing up nobody ever said, 'Oh, you're sexy.' The first thing that people would say when I came to the door was, 'Do you box?' 'Cause my nose was knocked off one side of my face, usually, after fights."
Chris Isaak recorded his cover LP, Beyond the Sun, at Tennessee's Sun Studio, where the likes of Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, James Cotton, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis have previously recorded. Isaak told us it was an honor working within the same studio as such legends: "I have to say whatever it was, when you walk into that room and you're a musician, everybody in my band - all of us - we had so much respect for the artists that had been in that room. I mean, for God's sake, you're sitting in the chair, or you're standing there singing, and you go, 'Howlin' Wolf stood right here. Elvis Presley was here. B.B. King played his guitar right there. Bill Black was playing bass there.' And all the sudden you're standing there and you're going, 'I want to do a great job. I'm going to do the best I can.' Because it's kind of out of respect for those guys."