Web Page No 2304
1st October 2016
Top Picture: Chubby Checker LP cover
Second Picture: Chubby and Catherina’s wedding day
Third Picture: Chubby Checker today
Not many people realise that the Twist goes back before the 1960s, in fact it was written by Hank Ballard, who originally recorded it in 1959 with his group The Midnighters. Hank Ballard, who died in 2003, was an influential R&B musician who blended rock, country and gospel in the '50s and '60s. He claimed that he got the idea for the song from watching The Midnighters on stage. To Hank the group often moved onstage like they were "trying to put a cigarette out." In a sense, they were twisting. Thus, the title of the song.
Hank Ballard & The Midnighters tried to get a Twist craze going with their original version of the song, doing the dance at their shows as they toured America (their dance was a little different, with band members lifting a leg to twist). It caught on in Philadelphia and in Baltimore, but was far from a national craze until Chubby Checker covered the song.
Hank Ballard's original version was the B-side to "Teardrops On Your Letter," a song that was covered by many Country musicians. "The Twist" went over very well live and Ballard thought it was a hit, but his record company (King Records) thought "Teardrops On My Letter" would do better (it made no.87). In Baltimore a DJ named Buddy Deane had a TV dance party show (The Buddy Deane Show) and played the song. The audience reaction was excellent and Buddy recommended the song to Dick Clark, who had his own show in Philadelphia, American Bandstand. Dick Clark loved the song but was wary of Hank Ballard, who was known for raunchy songs like "Sexy Ways". So Dick Clark, who was a media mogul with interests in record labels and artists, went looking for his own artist for the song. He held auditions, and found a young man named Earnest Evans, a chicken plucker who liked to sing on the job. He was a great impersonator and kept everyone at the chicken plant laughing as he'd do his impersonations of the popular stars of that time like Fats Domino, Elvis, The Coasters and the Chipmunks.
Because of strict payola laws, he was technically prohibited from having financial dealings with record companies, but he had a good relationship with the Cameo-Parkway label, which took care of recording and releasing the new version.
Studio musicians at Cameo-Parkway played on the record, and Earnest Evans sang the vocals, in fact this recording almost duplicated the Hank Ballard version. Dick Clark was ready to release the record but wanted Ernest Evans to think up a stage name. It was Dick Clark's wife who suggested that he use a take off on Fats Domino: Fats=Chubby Domino=Checker; so Ernest Evans became Chubby Checker, and after performing the song on American Bandstand, it was his version that raced up the charts. The cover was so convincing that when Hank Ballard first heard the song on the radio he thought it was him but since he was the songwriter, he earned massive royalties when Chubby Checker's version became a huge hit.
This started a dance craze that got so popular because it was so easy to do. Even the severely rhythm-challenged could do The Twist It helped bridge a generation gap, since both kids and adults could do it, it was also a dance where the participants didn't touch each other, which became a new trend, especially with Disco dancing.
The Chubby Checker hit the No 1 spot in America in September 1960 and re-released in the winter of 1961, It is the only song to hit US #1 twice with identical versions.
There were a few more Twists in 1963, and in 1964 The Beatles returned "Twist And Shout" to the charts (#2), but that was all the twisting of the '60s.
The Twist craze didn't catch on in England until 1962, after this was released for the second time. That's when it charted in the UK. The Twist was a worldwide phenomenon. Checker recorded versions in Italian, German and French.
For my sins I actually remember entering a Twist Competition at a College Dance in 1963 and actually winning. My parents told me that if I carried on dancing like this it would affect my back and hips in later life. Here we are fifty years later and I think that they might well have been right!
Looking back everyone associates Chubby Checker with the Twist but looking through his discology he only ever released seven ‘Twist’ records. But as they say, The Dance goes on!!!
On 12th December 1963 he, by then a millionaire at 22 years old, proposed marriage to Catharina Lodders, a 21-year-old Dutch model and Miss World 1962 from Haarlem, the Netherlands. He had met Miss Lodders in Manila the prior January. They were married on 12 April 1964 at Temple Lutheran Church in Pennsauken, New Jersey. Their first child, Bianca Johanna Evans, was born in a Philadelphia hospital on 8 December 1966.
He continued in the music industry and had a single at No1 on Billboard's dance chart in July 2008 with "Knock Down the Walls". The single also made the top 30 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In 2009, he recorded a public service announcement for the Social Security Administration to help launch a new campaign to promote changes in Medicare law. He encourages Americans on Medicare to apply for Extra Help, "A new 'twist' in the law makes it easier than ever to save on your prescription drug plan costs’ he says.
On February 25, 2013, he released a new single, the ballad "Changes," via iTunes; it was posted on YouTube and amassed over 100,000 views.
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On this day 1st October 1960-1965
On 01/10/1960 the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance and the number one album was Down Drury Lane to Memory Lane - A Hundred and One Strings. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 01/10/1961 the number one single was Johnny Remember Me - John Leyton. The top rated TV show was "Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth 13.25 Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV)".
On 01/10/1962 the number one single was She's Not You - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 01/10/1963 the number one single was She Loves You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was US predicts Vietnam victory by 1965.
On 01/10/1964 the number one single was I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.