Chubby Checker – King of the Rock and Roll Dances

by Erika Cox
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Chubby Checker will forever be associated with the popular song and dance "The Twist". Checker has said that in a way "The Twist" ruined his life the song was so popular that his audiences wouldn't allow him to sing any other song.

He often thought no one believed he had much talent because of "The Twist", and perhaps so, because he has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame despite his accomplishments.

Chubby Checker was born Ernest Evans on October 3, 1941 in Spring Gulley, South Carolina and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He attended the same high school as did Frankie Avalon and Fabian, but unlike the two teen idols he didn't get into the music industry until later on after high school.

While in high school, he worked in a poultry shop and would often tell jokes and sing to the customers these antics helped him get an audition with Cameo Records who signed Checker in 1959.

Evans changed his name to Chubby Checker in reference to Fats Domino and released his first single "The Class", a novelty record that had minor success. Checker recorded his biggest and most successful hit in 1960 called "The Twist", which was a song by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. Just to get the facts straight, the song was not a cover because Hank Ballard and the Midnighters already recorded and released the song, although it was not anywhere near as successful as Checker's version.

Checker didn't cover this song he did a remake of the original song. However, he did receive most of the credit for the song because his version or remake was much more popular than Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' version.

Checker's version was different from the Midnighters because he put more emphasis on the dancing and good times that the song portrayed instead of the sexual overtones of the original song. The song skyrocketed to number one on the pop and R&B charts and stayed there for four months, one of the longest lasting number one hits of all time.

Checker created a dance called the Twist to go with the song and it became a huge hit also. The song dropped out of the charts but miraculously made its way back to the top of the charts in 1961, when it hit number one again.

After the mega success of "The Twist" Checker released "Do The Pony", another successful song with a popular dance of the same name. A few more popular dances attributed to Checker were the Fly and the Hucklebuck.

Checker's song "the Twist" was such a success that he had a follow up version of the song called "Let's Twist Again".

He also had a number of other Top Ten songs including; "Slow Twistin" and "Limbo Rock" and even appeared in a few movies called Twist Around the Clock and Don't Knock the Twist, as you can see the Twist was all the rage, the public loved it.

Altogether, Checker had 32 chart hits during 1960 through 1968.

Eventually, Checker saw a decline in his style of music and throughout the 1970's he tried his hand at Folk music and Disco. He continued to tour as a major act in the oldies revivals around the country during the 70's and 80's, and in 1988 was back in the spotlight when he appeared in the rap version of "The Twist" by the rap group, The Fat Boys.

Checker continues to tour and perform all over today. He steals the show with his stable song and dance, "The Twist", and thrilling the audiences. He is the only recording artist to have five albums in the Top 12 all at once and the only artist to have a song reach #1 twice (The Twist). He also managed to have 32 chart hits.

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