First, there was Hank Ballard. He wrote and recorded the original of that song . Dick Clark, on American Bandstand, on the air from Philadelphia, was getting great action to this Ballard tune. He asked two friends, singers, to record it. They turned him down. Then, along came a local Phillie boy, Chubby Checker. His cover of the Hank Ballard song, recorded in 40 minutes and first released in 1960, became the definitive version of the Twist.
If you think Chubby Checker is an odd name. Here is one for you. His real name is Ernest Evans but he reminded Dick Clark's wife of Fats Domino, so they came up with a similar name -- Chubby Checker. The Twist went to #1 that first time. Then, when the adults got into the Twist, it climbed back up to #1 yet again in 1961. Heck, years later in 1988 Chubby, working with others, re-recorded the song and it went back up the charts to #16. The twist had legs.
Another band that made a living off the Twist was Joey Dee and the Starlighters. In 1961 they were playing at a popular venue -- Peppermint Lounge in NYC -- and they did their own custom "twist" song. It shot to the top of the charts. Joey and the group, singing Peppermint Twist, were featured in a movie called Hey, Let's Twist.
Chubby Checker was not one who would ever get enough of the twist. He, literally, made a career out of the twist and some of the other dances. If you were there, you have to remember Let's Twist Again.
Here is a fact for you. Around 1960, the New York Safety Council came up with an interesting statistic. They said that, in analyzing just over 50 cases of back problems reported, 49 of those were related to dancing the twist.
Now there is some food for thought. Who says exercise is good for you anyway?
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections