Please see revised post: Chubby Checker (The Dancing King)
Gary: We grew up in a Dancing era. I do believe that American Bandstand was a huge catalyst, but there were so many different dances, it was hard to keep track. We just DANCED.
Now, to look at the dances is no easy task, but I will look at the Biggest one and it’s star. Do you remember the first time you ever heard Ernest Evans? Careful, you will be surprised!
born Ernest Evans; October 3, 1941
Dee Dee Sharp & Chubby
And now to start, the first Ernest Evans song I ever heard and purchased, was from American Bandstand in 1959.
1. The Class/ Parkway 804/ June 1959/ #38
2. The Twist/ Parkway 811/ August 1960/ #1
3. The Hucklebuck/ Parkway 813/ October 1961/ #14
4. Pony Time/ Parkway 818/ January 1961/ #1 (3)
5. (Dance the) Mess Around/ Parkway 822/ #24
6. Let’s Twist Again/ Parkway 824/ July 1961/ #8
7. The Fly/ Parkway 830/ October 1961/ #7
8. The Twist (Same song # 1 again)/ November 1961/ #1 (2)
9. Jingle Bell Rock (with Bobby Rydell) Parkway 205/ December 1961/ #21
10. Slow Twistin’ (one of Gary’s favourites with Dee Dee Sharp)/Parkway835/ Mar 1962/ #3
11. Dancin’ Party/ Parkway 842/ July 1962/ #12
12A. Limbo Rock/ Parkway 849/ September 1962/ #2
12B. Popeye (The Hitchhiker)/ B side/ #10
13A. Let’s Limbo Some More/ Parkway 862/ #20
13B. Twenty Miles (Gary’s favourite)/ B side/ #15
14. Birdland/ Parkway 873/ June 1963/ #12
15. Twist it up/ Parkway 879/ August 1963/ #25
16A. Loddy Lo/ Parkway 890/ December/ January 63/64/ #12
16B. Hooka Tooka/ B side/ #17
17. Hey Bobba Needle/ Parkway 907/ March 1964/ #23
18. The Twist (with the fat boys)/ Tin Pan Apple 887571/ July 1988/ #16
Born October 3, 1941, in Spring Gulley, South Carolina, the son of a tobacco farmer. His family moved to Philadelphia, and as a young boy, Checker worked various jobs shining shoes, selling ice and assisting in a butcher’s shop. Because of his heavy build, he got his nickname, Chubby, while working as a teen at Tony Anastazi’s Produce Store. With a natural gift for imitation, he enjoyed impersonating the styles of his musical heroes Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. He began performing in churches and on the streets with his singing group, The Quantrells, and soon attracted the attention of music executives in Philadelphia.
Checker signed with Cameo-Parkway Records in 1959. His first two singles, “The Class” and “Dancing Dinosaur” were minor hits. Cameo encouraged him to make his own version of “The Twist,” a song originally written and performed by Hank Ballard, which was already having modest success on the charts. But it was Checker’s version and his accompanying dance routine that gave the song new life.
He was dubbed “The King of the Twist.” In fact, it was Dick Clark’s wife who came up with the name Checker, a reference to the similarity between the portly singer and Fats Domino.
As a dance movement, the Twist revolutionized popular culture by giving couples the freedom to break apart on the dance floor. An appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand launched Checker’s version of “The Twist” to the No. 1 billboard spot in August 1961, where it remained on the charts for 18 straight weeks. In November of that year, it reentered the charts again for a record-breaking 21 weeks. With this formidable achievement, “The Twist” became the first and only 45 single to ever appear in the No. 1 spot in two different years.
Although Checker recorded many more songs in the following years, none ever matched the success of “The Twist.” He continued to capitalize on the twist theme with similarly titled songs, such as “Twistin’ U.S.A.” and “Twist it Up” in the early 1960s, and even “Let’s Twist Again” in 1999. He also starred in two films featuring the twist sensation, Twist Around the Clock (1961) and Don’t Knock the Twist (1962).
Prominent advertisers have also borrowed the twist concept. In the early 1990s, for instance, Nabisco featured Checker twisting the Oreo cookie, resulting in one of the company’s most successful promotions ever.
He married Rina Lodder in 1964, and the couple has three children.