Monday, May 30, 2011

Chubby Checker

Twistin' with Chubby Checker

When I think back to my first impressions of Chubby Checker, it's all about the dance he created. The Twist was a really, really big thing. I know we "did" the Twist to not only his records but to all the cover bands as well. 

I think of a small quonset hut where the American Legion met. It was used for all sorts of community activities. I remember one particular evening when a pal of mine was playing drums in a local teenage band. They were booked to play at the "Legion Hut" that Saturday night. The Twist and Chubby Checker were the nationwide fashion. Naturally, our local boys were expected to produce "Twist" music so we could do the new dance. I don't know how good they were or how well we did the "Twist" but I do remember sweating completely though my shirt. 

Chubby Checker

To this day when I try to think of the Twist I think of that night and the stress I put on my teenage body. The next day my legs were sore as were my abs. My knees were shot. It seemed Chubby's new dance could be applied even to drum solo's. We had a ball. But his dance could be used in a really nasty pilates class.

I don't think I have ever seen a dance movement that brought out the older folks as well as the kids. All of a sudden, all ages seemed to be enjoying rock and roll. It was like the Hula Hoop craze applied to music. Anybody could do it ! No fancy steps to remember and you could basically do it at your own speed. From what I understand Chubby came up with the "Twist" by simply recording a cover of Hank Ballard's earlier version. I don't remember Ballard's version. But Chubby's sure put him on the map for good. Later he would introduce several more dances and we would try to learn them all. We did that just because it was the cool thing to do. Invariably, we would slip back into the Twist on certain songs. 

Chubby Checker doing the Limbo Rock

It was like someone had deemed it to be the national dance! Well so be it. 

Years later I would go to a Chubby Checker concert at Lake Lanier Islands, Georgia. He rocked the place. I don't know how many people were there in the seats nor how many down in the boats but he drew a hell of a crowd. This was twenty years or more after the hit.  A whole new generation was up doing the "Twist". 

Chubby had an infectious way about him while he was performing. He got the crowd very much involved. Before you knew it you were standing and jumping into the aisles to "do the Twist". He looked like he had not aged one bit twenty years. He looked youthful and and oh so energetic. 

Chubby Checker  doing the "Twist".


In 2008 Billboard named "The Twist" as the single biggest chart hit of all time.

1961 "Let's Twist Again" Won a Grammy as Best Rock and Roll Solo Vocal Performance.

Hits included:   24 Top 100, 23 in the Top 49, 8 Top 10's, three number one hits...........Hey Cleveland !!!  What's wrong with your picture ?????

He is, however, in the one that counts. Chubby, we hereby include you in "The Fan's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". (The only one that matters) Thanks for the memories.

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Chubby you affected the nation for at least a generation. Maybe two or three. Way to go partner.

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