The stage name, they say, is rooted in a childhood nickname, "Chubby," combined with an observation by Dick Clark's wife that Ernest looked like a chubby Fats Domino checkers and dominoes -- get it? But the song that made Chubby Checker a star was actually a cover; "The Twist" was first performed by a group called Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, but it didn't really take off. In , Chubby recorded it -- and again, it didn't make much of an impact. His producers slotted it to be a B-side [source: ChubbyChecker ]. That changed the following year, when the song was released as a single and Checker performed "The Twist" on Dick Clark's pop-music show "American Bandstand. Chubby Checker became an overnight sensation, performing his hit song nonstop in the early '60s and going on to record hit song after hit song, often accompanied by signature dances.
Chubby Checker - The Twist / Twistin' U.S.A. (, Vinyl) | Discogs
Chubby Checker 's cover version of the song gave birth to the Twist dance craze. His single became a hit, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot on September 19, , where it stayed for one week, and setting a record as the only song to reach number 1 in two different hit parade runs when it resurfaced and topped the popular hit parade again for two weeks starting on January 13, This version reached number 2 in the United Kingdom and number 1 in Germany. In , Billboard magazine declared the song the "biggest hit" of the s. Songs about doing the Twist went back to nineteenth-century minstrelsy, including "Grape Vine Twist" from around In Jelly Roll Morton , in "Winin' Boy Blues", sang, "Mama, mama, look at sis, she's out on the levee doing the double twist"—a reference to both sex and dancing in those days.
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In September , "The Twist" topped Billboard ' s list of the most popular singles to have appeared in the Hot since its debut in , an honor it maintained for an August update of the list. He entertained his classmates by performing vocal impressions of popular entertainers of the day, such as Jerry Lee Lewis , Elvis Presley and Fats Domino. It was his boss at the Produce Market, "Tony A. The owner of Fresh Farm Poultry, Henry Colt, was so impressed by the boy's performances for the customers that he, along with his colleague and friend Kal Mann, who worked as a songwriter for Cameo-Parkway Records ,  arranged for young Chubby to do a private recording for American Bandstand host Dick Clark. At this recording session Evans got his stage name from Clark's wife, who asked Evans what his name was.
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Checker performed on the Philadelphia streets before signing with Cameo-Parkway Records in and recording his version of Hank Ballard's "The Twist. Checker still performs today and was featured in a popular ad for Nabisco's Oreo cookies. Checker's family moved to Philadelphia, and as a young boy, he 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.