“I am the Alexander Graham Bell of the phone company, the Christopher Columbus of America because after 'The Twist' everything changed, ... Watch the films from 1958 up to 1959, and watch American Bandstand during that time. After the song came out, everything was different.” ~Chubby Checker
''The Twist' was written by Hank Ballard, who originally recorded it in 1959 with his group The Midnighters. Ballard was an influential R&B musician who blended Rock, Country and Gospel in the '50s and '60s. Ballard got the idea for the song by watching The Midnighters on stage. To Hank the group often moved onstage like they were "trying to put a cigarette out." In a sense, they were twisting. Thus, the title of the song.
Hank Ballard & The Midnighters tried to get a Twist craze going with their original version of the song, doing the dance at their shows as they toured America (their dance was a little different, with band members lifting a leg to twist). It caught on in Philadelphia and in Baltimore, but was far from a national craze until Chubby Checker covered the song.
Chubby Checker The year: 1960
On August 6, 1960, Chubby Checker appeared on the US TV show American Bandstand and performed 'The Twist'. The song went to No.1 on the US chart and again 18 months later in 1962.
A Bit of 'Chubby' Trivia...The Twist' is the only song to go to the top of the charts on two separate occasions.
Earnest Evans is Chubby Checker's birth name. He was discovered by Dick Clark. At the time, Earnest was a chicken plucker who liked to sing on the job. He was a great impersonator and kept everyone at the chicken plant laughing as he'd do his impersonations of the popular stars of that time like Fats Domino, Elvis, The Coasters and the Chipmunks. Clark's wife suggested that he use a take off on Fats Domino: Fats=Chubby Domino=Checker. Ernest Evans became Chubby Checker.Beyond the 60s...
Prominent advertisers have also borrowed the "twist" concept. In the early 90s, for instance, Nabisco featured Checker twisting the Oreo cookie, resulting in one of the company's most successful promotions ever.
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...