THE TWIST (Original by Hank Ballard) – 1961
LET’S TWIST AGAIN
Slow Twistin’ (Duet with Dee Dee Clark)
(AT THE) DISCOTHEQUE
You Better Believe It Baby
Just Don’t Know (What You Do To Me)
Chubby Checker was born Ernest Evans on 3rd October 1941, Philadelphia, PA. He became the crowned king of dance crazes – The Twist, The Pony, The Fly, The Hucklebuck, The Freddie and The Limbo Rock. The Twist was his biggest hit and it eclipsed the original first recorded by Hank Ballard.
Parkway Records was started in 1958 as a subsidiary to Cameo and Chubby was signed to them. The first hit record they had was Chubby’s The Class (Parkway 804) in 1959. On this novelty record Chubby is a teacher with a class of unruly students who are – Fats Domino, The Coasters, Elvis Presley, Cozy Cole and the Chipmunks, with Chubby doing imitations of all the above.
In 1959 DJ Dick Clark’s wife gave him the name Chubby Checker. The name was a sly reference to Fats Domino – get it? Although his Twist records were mega hits, arriving just at the right time to exert enormous influence everywhere, Chubby also had the advantage of being media savvy and coming over as a really nice guy.
In 1960 The Twist, a cover of a 1958 Hank Ballard and the Midnighter’s B side. It remained on the charts for four months – even then it came back again, fulfilling the lyric’s prophecy! Let’s Twist Again and in late 1961 it hit number one again – the only record ever to do so for more than a year apart.
Curiously Kev Roberts (who never went to the ‘Wheel’) claims like may others on the second Soul scene that it was only later on in the scene that imports from the USA were being imported as “the first wave of US imports” this is total rubbish… we were importing from auction lists right from 1964. Kev includes “At The Discotheque” on his Top 500 of Northern Soul. We didn’t have to import this one as Mr Bowker at BOWKERS Records on Rochdale Road, Collyhurst, Manchester had SIX COPIES!
In 1962 Chubby starred in a couple of feature films, Twist Around the Clock and Don’t Knock the Twist.
He had 32 chart hits before he made his most fantastic soul hit At The Discotheque a major chart flop but a massive Manchester Soul Scene hit. It was mainly ignored as it was a B side to Let’s Do The Freddy.
In 1970 he was doing an oldie revival tour. In 1982 at MCA he did a couple of disco albums; The Change Has Come, having minor hits with the singles Running and Harder Than Diamond from the albums.
Pony Time was a number one hit for Chubby although it was written and originally released by Don Covey – Chubby Checker was remarkably successful at having hits with other peoples material.
In 1988 he had a Top 40 hit when he appeared on the Fat Boys’ Rap of The Twist.
Its almost strange that the Twist has hit the charts so many times…? is it?
Was there more to the start of Chubby Checkers career than meets the eye?: a Strange Tale:
There are stories, rumours about the early days of pop music having subliminal sound track messages imprinted on them.
Well apparently and according to a strange book by Peter Moon called The Music Of Time: a studio musician and recording engineer; Preston B. Nichols, was working with Phil Spector on similar inclusions onto the vinyl tracking. On example allegedly was The Twist And Lets Twist Again By Chubby Checker.
Well it did have massive sales and was a hit several times! This strange book reveals Mr Checkers real name and give’s strange stories about other artists and recording techniques, that goes off into a parallel world of strangeness…. but you never know….The track was laid down on DJ radio station vinyl’s for broadcasting the message to like it, buy, it tell others.
Whatever did happen one certain outcome was the fact that the TWIST became a huge phenomenon.