The Twist by Chubby Checker

July 23, 2014

 

“The Twist” by Chubby Checker remains a unique single in American music history. While a number of singles have reached number one on the Billboard  Pop Singles Chart, fell out of that position, and then returned to the top, only “The Twist” reached number one in two completely different chart runs. It reached the top for the week of September 19, 1960, and again January 13, 1962, where it remained for two weeks.

The song first saw the light of day as the flip side of an obscure Hank Ballard and the Midnighters single “Teardrops On Your Letter.”  Ballard re-released the song as an A-side on July 18, 1960. Checker released his version a couple of weeks later on August 1st. It all came down to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Ballard wasn’t available but Checker was, and the rest, as they say, is history as his performance on the show made his release the big hit.

Its first chart run was fueled by teenagers, but during the intervening 18 months the dance had become a phenomenon, even accepted by adults. It was one of the first rock songs to cross over to an older audience as the dance craze was appearing in clubs across the United States. Dozens of artists would issue Twist songs to capitalize on its popularity. Joey Dee and The Starliters would also top the charts with their version called “Peppermint Twist.” Checker would release “Let’s Twist Again,” “Twistin’ USA,” and “Slow Twistin.’”  Its lasting appeal would be apparent by its reaching number two on the U.K. singles chart during 1988.

The dance was brilliant in its simplicity: swivel your hips and move your knees and arms back and forth, and there you have it. It was so simple even I can do it, and I can’t dance.

Checker would go one to release a number of dance records including “Pony Time,” “The Hucklebuck,” “The Fly,” and “Limbo Rock,” but none had the lasting impact of “The Twist,” which ruled the music world 53 years ago.


Pony Time by Chubby Checker

July 9, 2014

 

Chubby Checker, for better or worse, will always be associated with the dance craze, “The Twist.” The single topped The American Charts during 1960 and 1962. It was a rare dance that appealed to both adults and teens.

Ernest Evans grew up in Philadelphia where he was a friend of Fabian, who was a teen idol during the late 1950s and early 1960s thanks to some appearances on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Evans came to the attention of Dick Clark who helped him obtain a recording contract. It was Clark’s wife who christened Evans, Chubby Checker.

Checker’s first hit was the novelty song, “The Class,” which was issued during 1959. A year later he took Hank Ballad and The Midnighters moderate hit, “The Twist,” to the top of the charts and his career path was set.

He would follow “The Twist” with a series of dance songs. “Let’s Twist Again” (number 8 chart hit), “Slow Twistin’” (#3), “Limbo Rock” (#2), “The Fly” (#7), “The Hucklebuck” (#14), “Twist It Up” (#25), and “Dance The Mess Around” (#24) made him the king of the dance floor during the early 1960s.

Beginning Februaryy 27, 1961, his “Pony Time” was the number one single in The United States. It would remain in that position for three weeks. Lawrence Welk’s “Calcutta” had occupied the top slot for two weeks before being replaced by Checker. If there were ever two back to back number one hits that were completely different, these were the two.

“Pony Time” was another in his string of dance hits. It was a simple dance where you pretended to be riding a horse.

I don’t know if his dancing skill had anything to do with it, but Chubby would go on to marry Miss World 1962.

Chubby Checker is now in the neighborhood of 70 years old and is consistently on the road performing at clubs and on the oldies circuit.

A tip of the hat to his lesser known number one hit fifty-four later.


The Twist by Chubby Checker

June 15, 2014

 

 

 

During the late fifties Chubby Checker, born Everett Evans on 10/3/41, was an aspiring lounge singer. His life changed forever when he decided to record and release a former moderate hit by Hank Ballad & The Midniters. “The Twist” would become an international dance craze and reach number one on The United States singles charts fifty years ago this week.

People who were not alive at the time will have a difficult time realizing just how popular “The Twist” was during the early sixties. It was a fad similar to hula hoops and slinky’s as millions of teenagers and adults learned how to twist.

“The Twist” had a simplicity to it. Even the worst dancers could perform a credible twist. They were literally hundreds of versions released to cash in on its popularity and clubs opened which just featured the dance including the famous Peppermint Lounge in New York City. It would prove so popular that in early 1962 “The Twist” would become only one of two songs by the same artist to top the singles charts in different years. “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby was the other and that occurred before the rock ‘n’ roll era.

Chubby Checker would go on to become the king of dance songs. “Let’s Twist Again,” “Pony Time,” “The Fly.” “Dancin’ Party,” “Twist It Up,” “Limbo Rock,” and “Slow Twistin’” all became hit singles in The United States.

Chubby Checker is still performing on the oldies circuit and twisting away.


Teach Me To Twist 45 by Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell

April 17, 2013

Teach Me To Twist

Chubby Checker was the king of the twist and other dances during the pre-Beatles era of the early 1960s. Bobby Rydell was a teen idol during the same era when he charted two dozen singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100. Checker and Rydell both recorded for the Cameo-Parkway label and every once in a while would team up for a release.

That was the case when they released “Teach Me To Twist.” The concept was Checker would teach Rydell to twist. Cute concept but not commercially successful as it did not chart. It really did not matter as both would continue their successful solo careers.


The Fly 45 by Chubby Checker

October 24, 2012

Chubby Checker was a huge star during the the early 1960s pre-Beatles era. He was the king of the dance songs and would never be able to get away from that type of music. “The Twist” will always be his defining song and was one of the signature songs of its era.

One of his other hit dance songs was released during the late summer of 1961. “The Fly” became a hit during the fall reaching number seven on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

Checker is still performing today and yes, still dancing away.


Slow Twistin’ 45 by Chubby Checker

July 19, 2012

“The Twist” made Chubby Checker a star during the 1960’s pre-Beatles era. It topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, not once but twice, during 1960 and 1961.

People today cannot conceive just how popular The Twist was during the early 1960s. Twist clubs that catered to adults sprang up all over the country.

Chubby Checker would issue a series of dance singles that, for better or worse, would define his career.

The twist bandwagon kept on rolling as “Let’s Twist Again” reached number eight and and “Twist It Up” peaked at number 25.

He released “Slow Twistin'” during early 1962 with Dee Dee Sharp helping out with the vocals. As the title suggests, it was a slow version of the popular dance. It became another big twist hit reaching number three.

Checker still performs his dance hits and would make a worthy inductee into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.


It’s Pony Time/Let’s Twist Again by Chubby Checker

July 2, 2012

Chubby Checker was a star during the early 1960s pre-Beatles era. He was the king of the dance craze fad in the United States. His cover of the Hank Ballard song, “The Twist,” reached number one on the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles chart not once but twice. It became more than a hit song, as it was a cultural phenomenon, with twist clubs springing up across the nation that catered to adults.

Checker went on to issue a series of dance songs that would ultimately stereotype him and his music. When music began to evolve during the mid-1960s, his popularity waned. Now in his early ’70s, he continues to tour regularly singing his old hits.

Real Gone Music has reached back in time to release two of his albums, It’s Pony Time and Let’s Twist Again. They are very representative of the early 1960s, as they were built around a hit or two and a number of cover songs. They were created for commercial success rather than changing the music world.

It’s Pony Time was originally released during March of 1961. The title track was the only other number one single of his career. Every other song on the album was connected to a dance. He covered such songs as “The Watusi,” “The Hully Gully,” and “The Stroll.” He even re-imagined “The Charleston.”

Let’s Twist Again was released five months later during August of 1961. The title song had returned him to the limelight, and was another high octane romp that made people want to get up and dance.

It was a more diverse album, as his rock and roll cover of the Broadway standard, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Quarter to Three” proved he could take on other material well when given the chance. On the other hand, “Continental Walk,” “Takes Two to Tango,” and “The Ray Charles-ton” were run-of-the-mill attempts to capitalize on his dance persona.

The music of Chubby Checker is frozen in time. It’s Pony Time/Let’s Twist Again needs to be listened to in their proper perspective. Today his music may seem dated but a little over 50 years ago he had the whole country dancing.

Article first published as Music Review: Chubby Checker – It’s Pony Time/Let’s Twist Again on Blogcritics.