Submitted by Rob Durkee
The unthinkable happened at this time in 1962. Imagine, a song that was #1 sixteen months earlier…returning to #1.
The Twist – Chubby Checker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO8ifb9umAY
“The Twist” by Chubby Checker is by far the greatest dance single ever. It was the #1 single the first 21 years of the rock era (1955-76) and the #1 single in the 55-year history of one pop chart. When it went to #1 in September of 1960 and again 16 months later in January, 1962, it became the only song (discounting holiday songs) to make #1 in two separate chart runs.
An entire book has been written on “The Twist.” Ironically, the song was twice the B side. For Hank Ballard, who wrote “The Twist” and sang it originally, it was the B side of “Teardrops On Your Letter.” And for Chubby, it was the B side of “Toot.”
When Hank Ballard’s version was played on “American Bandstand,” kids flocked to the floor to dance to it…but Dick Clark felt the song needed more universal pop appeal with someone else singing it. He suggested to Danny and The Juniors of “At The Hop” fame to sing it, but nothing big happened. Johnny Preston of “Running Bear” fame recorded it. Freddy (Boom Boom) Cannon was rumored to be in line to sing it…but ultimately Chubby’s version became the dance classic.
The second-time-around success of “The Twist” was due in part to the dance becoming THE craze. It showed on the pop chart. Among the twist songs popular in the ensuing months of 1962 were “Peppermint Twist” and “Hey Let’s Twist” (Joey Dee And The Starliters), “Dear Lady Twist” (Gary U.S. Bonds), “Slow Twistin'” (Chubby Checker/Dee Dee Sharp), “Soul Twist” (King Curtis), “Twisting The Night Away” (Sam Cooke), “Twistin’ Postman” (the Marvelettes) and “Percolator (Twist)” by Billy Joe and the Checkmates.
Even Hollywood got into the act in the spring of 1962, when the movie “Don’t Knock The Twist” was released. Chubby Checker was in it along with Gene Chandler, Vic Dana, Linda Scott and the Dovells.
For more on Chubby Checker visit: https://www.chubbychecker.com/
Editor’s Note: Chubby Checker holds a pivotal spot in my history as a professional dancer and choreographer, as we actually opened for him as The Route 66 Dancers. It was at a show in Toronto at the Showline Studios where we were performing as part of the Back to the Five and Dime Show where I met Bobby Curtola for the first time. An event that turned into a lifelong friendship and changed my life so The Twist will always hold a special place in my career history.