Mr. Chub Check was, single-handedly and without question, the Tycoon of Twist. In the wee years before the British invasion, kids of all ages, and of all nationalities, wickedly wiggled and provocatively pranced to the world’s first dance craze. It was a short-lived event, charting on Billboard from ’59 with Hank Ballard and The Midnighters’ The Twist, and ending with Twist and Shout in ’64 by The Beatles (a cover of the 1961 single by The Top Notes). A total of 19 twist-influenced (twinfluenced?) tunes hit Billboard between these six years, but no one artist was more prolific and prominent than Ernest Evans (aka Chubby Checker).
“It’s Pony Time” here at The Prudent Groove, and we hope you didn’t forget to pack your fluffy turtlenecks, your mid-Roxanne singing face, your spotted checker board (a chubby thickness is preferred, but not required), and of course, “one of the most popular albums in the history of the record industry!”
Apparently, by 1961, the one-two punch of Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker was considered one of the greatest musical achievements the world has ever seen! I’m certainly not knocking either Bob or Chub, but it’s somewhat easy to see how the explosion of teen-friendly, NON-twist-inspired music was so effective when it hit the unsuspecting faces of vocal-chord-screaming teens just a few years later.
Milked within in inch of its life, The Twist, and the plethora of deviations it spawned, lived an extremely short life when considering what timeless masterworks would follow it with the onslaught of the British Invasion. Twisting, it seems, is like the Macarena. You never really forget how to do it, but there are certainly times when you wish you could.