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The Twist

September 19 – 25, 1960
Chubby Checker
The Twist

I don’t when exactly the human race decided to come up with music but when they did rest assured that dancing to it wasn’t far behind.  Shortly thereafter likely came the first dance craze, which probably made the old cave people cringe when they watch the younger ones dance in unison.  A couple of years later on those same old people gathered at cave functions (probably cave weddings) where they would attempt those dances, perform it poorly and make the young people cringe and never want dance that way again.

This may not have been the most appropriate lead in for Chubby Checker’s biggest hit, “The Twist”, but this was the song that launched the early 1960’s dance craze and its overall success really can’t be understated. 

Born Ernest Evans, Checker received his name from the wife of Dick Clark, and while “Ernie Evans” doesn’t have a bad ring to it, “Chubby Checker” sounded far more fun and actually fit his personality better.  The name change almost immediately worked to his advantage as automatically he seemed safer, which he was especially in compared to the more sexualized original Hank Ballard version that was released two years earlier.

This isn’t a Pat Boone like case, as while Checker couldn’t match Ballard’s gritty sexuality when referencing the “Twist”, Ballard couldn’t equal the exuberance that Checker had.[1]  When you heard Checker sing the “Twist” or really any other dance song (and he did do that a lot) you believed that he thought that this was in fact the greatest dance ever and the most fun thing to possibly do and if rock and roll music was meant to be fun, then Checker had the formula figured out.

Almost instantly, America was twisting and Checker was a major star and when you have something that hits this big, you have imitators, which included Checker himself.  This led to the “Mashed Potato”, “The Watusi”, “The Alligator”, “The Jerk” and so many others all of which were all showcased in the mid 60’s “Land of 1,000 Dances”, made most famous by Wilson Pickett.[2] 

Checker would remain the leader of the Dance Craze, but as will be shown later, this wouldn’t be all it was cracked out to be. 

Incidentally, we will come back to this song later.

Now let’s twist on out to our next song.

Other Notable Songs that charted but did not go to number one in this time period: September 19, 1960 – September 25, 1960.


[1] The guys name was Chubby Checker, not exactly a name that makes you think that you have a lean mean sex machine on your hands after all.

[2] The song never mentioned all 1,000 songs, (just 16), but it seemed that every inanimate object, food or animal was the name of a dance in the 60’s. 
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