Song: “The Twist” by Chubby Checker
Reached #1 First Time: September 19, 1960 (his first, 1 week)
Reached #1 Second Time: January 13, 1962 (2 more weeks)
There have been many songs that had non-continuous runs at #1 on the Hot 100. I haven’t really made note of them because it’s kind of common to have a long run at #1 with another song jumping up in the middle.
This… this is unique, though. Chubby Checker’s “Twist” spent a week at #1 on its original run in 1960, fell off the charts, came back on the charts, and got two more weeks at #1.
Ironically, Checker wasn’t the original artist, and “The Twist” wasn’t the original song. The music started as a Drifters song called “What’cha Gonna Do”, then became a Midnighters’ song called “Is Your Love For Real”, before getting new lyrics to commemorate the long-standing dance (and euphemism for sex) in 1958. The Midnighters’ Glen Ballard did the song, which became a local hit in Baltimore in 1960. But Ballard wasn’t available to go to Philadelphia when Dick Clark wanted to feature the song on American Bandstand, so Clark turned to an artist he’d been trying to break out for a while.
That artist was born Ernest Evans. From days working at a produce market, he’d been nicknamed “Chubby”. At some point in the last ‘50s, “Chubby” Evans did an audition for Dick Clark. During the audition, Evans did an impression of Fats Domino’s singing, leading Clark’s then-wife Barbara to ask if they called him “Chubby… as in Checker?” And a stage name was born.
Checker had one other #1 hit, “Pony Time”, but to this day, he’s known as the guy who popularized the Twist, and at age 71, is still Twisting like he did last summer – doing the casino and fair circuit, and he’s booked to appear at Disney’s spring Flower Power concert series at Epcot in March 2013.
Tomorrow, a rarity – a #1 recorded by a band that did not, technically, exist.
Other songs that reached #1 on September 19:
1970 – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross (her first, 3 weeks)
1987 – “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” by Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett (his sixth, 1 week)