Born Ernest Evans in South Carolina but a Philadelphia native from his early childhood, Chubby Checker single-handedly brought "The Twist" to the world in the early ‘60s in the process becoming the undisputed "King Of Dance" for close to five years during which time he was the first and only artist to have five albums in the nation's Top 20 at the same time.
Chubby's meteoric rise to fame began after he started mastering the art of doing impressions of then-popular music stars. It was after singing for customers at the local poultry store where he worked after school that the young teen snagged an audition with renowned television host Dick Clark. The result? Young Ernest's voice was used for Clark's Christmas greeting card in 1958 leading to a recording contract with Cameo-Parkway Records - and a transformation when Clark's wife Bobbie - musing on the success of ‘Fats Domino' - thought ‘Chubby Checker' would be a suitable new name for Cameo-Parkway's latest ‘find'!
After a couple of local hits, it was Chubby's cover of a "B" side to a Hank Ballard recording that would catapult him to international stardom: originally released in the autumn of 1960, Chubby's million-selling version of "The Twist" became a No. 1 pop and R&B smash staying on the charts for four months and remarkably returning for a second run in late 1961, the only record (other than Bing Crosby's "White Christmas") to ever achieve such a feat.
In the ensuing years, Chubby enjoyed success with such hit singles as "The Hucklebuck," "Pony Time, " "The Fly," "Slow Twistin'" (a duet with Cameo labelmate Dee Dee Sharp) and two more million-sellers, "Let's Twist Again" and 1962's "Limbo RocK," performing literally across the globe and appearing in the movies, "Twist Around The Clock" and "Don't Knock The Twist."
Chubby returned to the charts in 1988 when he teamed with The Fat Boys for a revival of "The Twist." He continues performing to this day.
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.