In the 1960s, it seems like a new dance craze sparked up each week — the Watusi, the Mashed Potato, the Funky Chicken, and so on. The one that started it all, however, was the Twist.
Originally recorded by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters in 1959, the eponymous song was only a mild hit in 1960 at first, quietly climbing its way up to #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. That all changed when a little-known singer originally born Ernest Evans re-recorded it and released it later that summer.
More popularly known as Chubby Checker, his cover of “The Twist” shot to the top of the charts on September 19, 1960 — then enjoying a second reign on top on January 13, 1962 as the Twist craze belatedly spread to the adults of the country, thanks to celebrity influence.
Here’s Chubby Checker on American Bandstand, performing the song that shot him to fame — and started a bumper crop of dance crazes across the world. – AJW