Friday, January 13, 2012

50 years ago: Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” hit #1…again

The Twist

Chubby Checker

Writer(s): Hank Ballard (see lyrics here)

Released: June 1960

First Charted: July 18, 1960

Peak: 13 US, 18 CB, 15 HR, 2 RB, 5 UK, 16 CN, 20 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 41.98 video, 48.33 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“The Twist” became the only song in U.S. history to top the pop charts in two separate runs, but began life quite humbly as a B-side by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. RS500 The song’s inspiration has been cited as a new dance Ballard saw Florida teens doing, SF but Ballard claims that his band invented it from their on-stage dance routines. SJ Whatever the origins, the dance became a craze because anyone could do it. As Checker said, “It’s like putting out a cigarette with both feet.” SJ

Philadelphia DJ Buddy Dean played the song on a TV dance party show and the kids’ reaction encouraged him to recommend it to Dick Clark at American Bandstand. SF When it became that show’s hottest dance, BR Clark tried to come on and perform it. When the deal fell through, he turned to Checker, who’d impressed him with impersonations of Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, the Coasters and the Chipmunks SF when Clark and his wife had gone to Cameo Records to record an audio Christmas card for friends. BR

As for the results, Ballard said, “they cloned it.” SF However, he was not bitter considering the huge songwriter royalties he received once Checker’s version became a hit SF – twice. The song owed its first wave of success to the teens. However, when adults discovered the song and Checker performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show, it was re-released BR in January 1962 and went back to the top. The two chart runs gave it a record 39 weeks on the Hot 100 for a #1 song, a feat that lasted until 1988 when UB40’s second chart with “Red Red Wine” gave that song 40 weeks on the charts. BB100

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Chubby Checker
  • BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 74.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/04). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 98.
  • SF

First posted 1/13/2012; last updated 4/24/2021.

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