Christopher Joseph "Chris" Isaak (born June 26, 1956) is an American rock musician and occasional actor.
Isaak was born in Stockton, California, 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. Chris has two older brothers, Nick and Jeff.
Isaak signed a contract to Warner Bros. Records in 1984 for his first album Silvertone. 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.
His best-known song is "Wicked Game". 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. 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-Peruvian 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. 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 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 turned down the roles of Jeffrey Beaumont in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) and Ray Sinclair in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild (1986).
Chris Isaak at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater
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 person to leave the confines of his spacecraft who later died in the Apollo 1 fire.
Isaak is also an amateur boxer, a former Golden Gloves champion and an avid surfer. He is a correspondent for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Extra.
The Biography Channel will air The Chris Isaak Hour, a music interview and performance show. The series premiere will feature Trisha Yearwood, and will include the first ever performance of "Breaking Apart", a duet from Isaak's new album, Mr. Lucky. Additional guests include Stevie Nicks, Smashing Pumpkins, Chicago, Glen Campbell, Michael Buble, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), and Jewel.