Chubby Checker

  • Singer and early rock & roller born Ernest Evans in 1941 in Spring Gully South Carolina. Raised in Philadelphia.
  • As a teenager, Evans would do vocal impressions of various singers at school and at the Italian market where he worked. His boss at the market called him Chubby, and the owner of the market was so impressed by Evans, that he arranged for an audition with Philadelphia-based Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand. Clark’s wife was watching him perform a Fats Domino impression, and asked Evans what his name was. He responded that his friends called him Chubby, and Clark’s wife responded “As in Checker?” The play on words – Fats Domino = Chubby Checker – stuck, and Evans continued to use it for his stage name.
  • In 1960, Checker recorded a novelty single for Clark, where he sang Mary Had A Little Lamb imitating various stars of the day like Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson. Clark used the song as his Christmas greeting, and its popularity earned Checker a record contract.
  • You know the name Chubby Checker for one reason – his recording of The Twist. He released the song in 1960. The song was originally performed by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, released in 1959. Checker’s version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart twice – the only single ever to hit #1 one year (in 1960), and then re-enter the charts in a different year (1962) and hit #1 again. It re-entered after Checker’s performance of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show.
  • Checker’s cover gave birth to the twist dance craze. Prior to the song, dancing to rock & roll music was a teenage phenomena. Once Checker’s song became popular, adults took to the dance floor along with the kids.
  • He only had 1 other song reach #1 – a song called Pony Time in 1961. Along with the song came another new dance, called “The Pony,” where the dancers looked like they are riding a horse while they dance.
  • He also popularized limbo dancing with his song Limbo Rock, which peaked at #2 in 1962. Other dance related singles that charted were The Hucklebuck, The Fly, Dance the Mess Around, Slow Twistin’, and Let’s Twist Again, which won a Grammy award for Best Rock & Roll Solo Vocal Performance.
  • He has released 26 albums over the years, as recently as 2012. In 2013, he released a single on ITunes – a ballad called Changes. 
  • Billboard magazine’s list of the most popular singles of all time puts The Twist as #1 on the list. That’s impressive. Well, it makes it easy to decide what YouTube video to post. The clip is from American Bandstand – watch this, and you’ll see that we’ve come a long long way. Here it is…The Twist. 

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