Ernest Evans, 3 October 1941, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Checkers musical career began in 1959 while working at a local chicken market. His employer introduced the teenager to songwriter Kal Mann, who penned the singers debut single, The Class. He was given his new name by the wife of the legendary disc jockey Dick Clark as a derivation of Fats Domino. Chubby Checker became one of several artists to enjoy the patronage of Clarks influential American Bandstand television show and the successful Cameo-Parkway label. He achieved national fame in 1960 with The Twist, a compulsive dance-based performance which outgrew its novelty value to become an institution. The song, initially recorded in 1958 by Hank Ballard And The Midnighters, was stripped of its earthy, R&B connotation as Checker emphasized its carefree quality. The Twist topped the US chart on two separate occasions (1960 and 1961), and twice entered the UK charts, securing its highest position, number 14, in 1962. Pony Time (1961), a rewrite of Clarence Pine Top Smiths Boogie Woogie, became Checkers second gold disc and second US number 1, before Lets Twist Again established him as a truly international attraction. A Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it became the benchmark of the twist craze, one of the memorable trends of the immediate pre- Beatles era. It inspired competitive releases by the Isley Brothers (Twist And Shout), Joey Dee (Peppermint Twist) and Sam Cooke (Twistin The Night Away) while Checker mined its appeal on a surprisingly soulful Slow Twistin (with Dee Dee Sharp) and Teach Me To Twist (with Bobby Rydell).
Eager for more dance-orientated success, he recorded a slew of opportunistic singles including The Fly (1961) and Limbo Rock (1962), both of which sold in excess of one million copies. However, the bubble quickly burst, and dance-inspired records devoted to the Jet, the Swim and the Freddie were much less successful. Even so, Checker had in a comparatively short time a remarkable run of 32 US chart hits up to 1966. Checker was latterly confined to the revival circuit, reappearing in 1975 when Lets Twist Again re-entered the UK Top 5. The Fat Boys single, The Twist (Yo Twist), with Chubby guesting on vocals, climbed to number 2 in the UK in 1988. He has continued to perform, record and maintain a profile, particularly in the music trade where he continues to remind and inform the music business that he deserves greater recognition.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.