Almanac: Chubby Checker and "The Twist"


Chubby Checker, the Philadelphia entertainer who started the "Twist" craze that has swept the United States, demonstrates the hip-swiveling dance in London on Dec. 19, 1961.

AP Photo

(CBS News) And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: January 13th, 1962, 51 years ago today, the day "Hit Parade" lightning struck twice.

For that was the day Chubby Checker's version of "The Twist" hit Number One, AGAIN, more than a year after it hit number one the FIRST time back in late 1960.

Though originally recorded by Hank Ballard in 1959, it was Checker's 1960 cover that got the airplay, not to mention exposure on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand."

To the alarm of many parents, The Twist gyrated to the top of the charts, inspiring movies, follow-up songs, and putting a New York nightclub called the Peppermint Lounge on the map.

As described in the movie "Twist," the dance was not new to the regulars of the Peppermint. But then, society discovered it, and almost overnight the Rolls Royce set began to mingle with the motorcycle set.

By early 1962, Chubby Checker's "Twist" was topping the charts once more, and soon it seemed that everyone was doing it, with the apparent exception of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"I have no objection to the Twist as such. But it does represent some kind of change in our standards. What has happened to our concepts of beauty and decency and morality?"

Chubby Checker himself has always had a somewhat different explanation for the success of the Twist: "You didn't have to be a great dancer to do the Twist. All you needed to do was a few steps, a little imagination, and you were home."

Many another dance craze has come and gone over the past half-century, but Chubby Checker remains to this day the greatest champion of The Twist.