FH Reader Claude Zwyer prepared this piece on Chubby Checker and asked us to share it with our readers.
As a long-time supporter of Chubby's rightful place in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, something we've been campaigning for for decades now, I am more than happy to do so. (You're preachin' to the choir on this one, Claude! lol)
While I know many, if not most of you out there share the same sentiment, I have no problem whatsoever in pushing for Chubby's inclusion every chance we get. (I mean all the guy did was kick off a national dance craze ... which became a national song craze. Don't believe me? How many songs with the word "twist" in the title can YOU name??? Only to go on to become the first and only artist to top the US national charts with the exact same song TWICE during The Rock Era.)
The most frustrating part about all of this is that The Hall was founded to recognize artists EXACTLY like this ...
Those who made the biggest difference in setting trends and redefining the genre of Rock And Roll.
All I know is that there are a WHOLE lotta candidates already inducted ... and many more on the ballot each year ... who did nothing to advance rock and roll as an art form ...
Yet this guy continues to be ignored and denied his deserved place in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's hallowed halls ... and that's just wrong. (kk)
Conspicuous in his (Hall of Fame) Absence:
The Great Chubby Checker
Up early, I recently saw a Time/Life advertisement for a multi-disc compilation: The Rock Hall of Fame; showcasing their greatest live performances.
I just shook my head and smirked …
… Like a lot of people, I bet ...
Especially when the annual nominations are announced; the televised blathering of faux enthusiasm. Their desperate attempts to attract a younger, more diverse base.
Frankly, up until recently, neither I nor any of my ‘baby boomer’ friends or fellow musicians had ever uttered a word or thought – good or bad – about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or its Cleveland-based museum.
If asked, I’d have simply stated that it was good for the economy. Kept people employed. No more, no less.
And while I suppose that most people have no interest in traveling all the way to Cleveland just to view the costumes, instruments, and handwritten lyrics of their idols, a great many actually do.
For them, it’s a lovely, mystical experience.
So, for that alone, I’d have again, tacitly, shrugged my approval …
… That is, until I’d recently heard (from a friend) that the great Chubby Checker had never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Had never even been nominated.
But what puzzled me more, though, was that the always-amicable Checker had staged a good-natured, one-man protest outside the Waldorf Astoria’s induction ceremony back in 2004 (as per the Associated Press.)
Alas, no one I know remembers hearing about it on the 6 o’clock news. Perhaps because Checker himself, strangely enough, wasn’t at all upset by the exclusion. Didn’t think it mattered.
What did bother him, however, was the lack of airplay that his many hits received on the oldies stations. “… No airplay, no payday,” Checker lamented.
And yeah, I can actually vouch for that. During the 70s and 80s, the only radio station I ever listened to was WCBS FM – New York’s premier oldies channel.
Now? I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I was too preoccupied, back then, to notice that Checker really wasn’t getting the airplay he deserved.
In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing Checker’s music at all ( … although, I concede that it’s probably impossible. Still.)
I have a theory, though, and I’ll share it with you shortly.
But first, let me regale you with a quote from Rock Illuminati Seymour Stein (then-president of The Rock Hall’s New York chapter, and member of its nominating committee) who told the AP: “I think Chubby is someone who will be considered. He has been in certain years.”
Ahhh, so spoke the Zeus of rock’s Mt. Olympus.
I dunno. To me, it sounded like he was eloquently dropping a hint; that some financial gesture of enthusiasm might perhaps reignite said ‘consideration.’ Move things along. At least, that’s what I thought initially.
But I was wrong. Further research indicated that Seymour Stein was no Zeus of anything. Nor was he looking to be bribed.
I’ll get to that shortly.
But for now, let’s just fast forward ten years from that harlequin megillah of 2004.
Indeed. By 2014, Mr. Checker is no longer flippantly amused and disinterested in the status quo. Rather, by this time (at age 72), he is sad and offended by the Cleveland institute’s continued dismissal of his major contributions to American music and culture.
And much to the distress of his countless fans, his change of heart is understandable. Especially the financial impact this dunderheaded omission has had on his life.
That said, I refer you to the excellently-written article by SPOTLIGHT staff writer Steven V. Cronin (July 2, 2014).
In it, Cronin cites that yes, Chubby Checker’s omission has been widely lambasted by many respected ‘boomers’ in the industry; among them, pioneering Philadelphia DJ Jerry Blavat, who unabashedly blames Hall of Fame co-founder Jann Wenner for this and other mind-boggling oversights while honoring the more contemporary artists who have had laughably less impact and influence:
“He knows nothing about rock and roll except past 1965. It took me forever to get Little Anthony and the Imperials and Darlene Love in,” Blavat said. “Everything is political.”
Wow! Little Anthony? And Darlene Love, too? Sure, I too, was angry and disgusted when I read this.
But not shocked.
Judging by Blavat’s statement (about Wenner knowing nothing about rock’n’roll before 1965), I just assumed that this Wenner guy was just some young kid (really young) whose influential family simply set him up in this cushy job.
Garden-variety nepotism. Oh well.
But, again, I was incorrect. And ignorant. And perhaps, maybe I should be ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know who Jann Wenner was ( … uh, is, as per Wikipedia): “… An American magazine magnate who is the co-founder and publisher of the popular culture magazine Rolling Stone and former owner of Men’s Journal magazine.”
Yeah, like I said: Maybe I should be embarrassed. But I’m not. Whatthehell, I hadn’t read Rolling Stone since 1970 (and even then, only when someone else had bought it.) Hey, by that time, all my favorite bands had broken up. And anyway, most of us kids didn’t know or care who wrote or published that damned thing.
Now though? Some forty years later? As a now-educated adult, things like this matter. So, I’m rather shocked to further learn that the heralded Jann Wenner was born in 1946.
I repeat: 1946! A couple of years before even my greatest older mentors: Beatniks, Folkies, and Greasers of both genders. Hipsters who pre-dated the so-called Summer of Love. Splendid elders who took me under their wings and exposed me to all the heretofore unheard gems of their collections. Artists like Elmore James, Big Mama Thornton, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Burl Ives, J.B. Lenoir, Sun House, along with all the countless R’n’B vocal groups (that would one day be dubbed “Doo Wop.”)
Even now, I look back with loving reverence to all those born in the late 1940s; those generous souls who actually witnessed the birth of rock’n’roll and shared their knowledge with us rank, fledgling teenyboppers.
Which is why Jann Wenner is such a confounding anomaly: A once-major cultural icon and influencer while, at the same time, being the utterly despised object of such passionate contention bordering on abject hatred.
How could this be? It made no sense.
And yet, there it is. On Wikipedia. Multiple controversies re: a man who, by all logic, should’ve been all-knowing and universally loved …
… But isn’t!
Read for yourself. Hell, I sure did. And now? I’m suddenly inclined to change the very title of this essay (… I won’t, though).
Alas, it was my original intention/hope to somehow revive the Chubby Checker issue and perhaps compel the present powers-that-be to correct this oversight; this crass exclusion. And finally induct Mr. Checker into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
However, I don’t think that’s gonna happen any time soon.
From what I’ve recently read, Jann Wenner is old. Mean. And vindictive. No doubt, vindictive enough to hold a grudge against all those who have permanently tainted his Wikipedia biography for all posterity (starting with Chubby Checker.)
And, worse still, he is powerful. And yes, fearsome enough to discourage opposing opinions amongst his own rank and file, lest their future careers depend on his good graces.
Perhaps that is what DJ Blavat meant when he ruefully opined that it was “all political.”
On the other hand, though, I no longer believe that Checker’s induction is of tantamount importance anymore. Not even for financial reasons.
If anything, I now consider the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be a flawed, scatterbrained and disreputable institution, and that the majority of its still-living inductees are probably just too uninformed, self-involved and/or just too airheaded to notice or give a damn …
… Or to think that it’s actually still an honor.
Although I’d like to acknowledge the single exception to this seemingly apathetic roster. Namely, the duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates, who during their own induction speech, took the time to advocate for Checker as well as other Philadelphia-based artists.
You guys are truly decent gentlemen. Thank you.
That said, I suppose the only thing I can do for Chubby is to finish this essay (once intended for the Hall of Fame) and just send copies to every oldies station in the country.
Remind them all just what Chubby Checker meant (and still means) to America. To the world.
Because, for the life of me, I can’t imagine why he was ever rejected in the first place and I doubt that kingmaker Jann Wenner would ever deign to explain it to a nobody like me.
Or anyone else, for that matter.
But hey, lemme try and play devil’s advocate for a minute; empathize with the ahem, experts … Hmm … Perhaps bon vivant Wenner might’ve found The Twist (and its many variations) to be lyrically and conceptually ‘quaint.’ Not really rock’n’roll at all.
Or equally quaint, his name. Chubby Checker? A corporate construct; derivative of Fats Domino?
Is that what bothered you, Jann?
Well, excuse our quaint-lovin’ dust!
Now, granted, Chubby Checker wasn’t one of the sophisticated forefathers of rock’n’roll like Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry who inspired top dogs like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles …
… Oh, but wait, wait! Suddenly, I remember: The dawn of Beatlemania. The mass hysteria. Especially for their fan-favorite cover of The Isley Brothers’ Twist and Shout. Even now, I can still see/hear the screaming; the crying over that one particular set-closer.
Indeed. One of the many spawns of The Twist.
Chubby Checker’s Twist.
And yeah, sure, we all know that it was originally the B side of Hank Ballard’s Teardrops on Your Letter (1958). But it was the great Chubby Checker who infused it with an intrinsic joy that was his and his alone.
An inexplicable jubilation that was absolutely contagious. It was as though he had literally christened the decade itself.
In fact, during the 1960s, there were undoubtedly more songs titled with the noun “Twist” than there were “Rock’n’Roll” titles. From The Peppermint Twist to even The Transylvania Twist.
(I’ll get back to The Peppermint Twist in a moment.)
And, get this: None of us ever even noticed (let alone minded) the repetitious use of the very word “twist” in songs. Or the constant reference to the dance itself, for that matter.
Quite the contrary. For one thing, people loved Chubby’s debut hit so much – even those of us too young and/or too shy to dance – that he, soon after, released the equally-loved Let’s Twist Again (1961), which followed Twistin’ USA (1960).
Surely, The Twist wasn’t just some corporate fad. At some point, it was no longer simply a dance craze. Over time, it actually became a noun; a euphemism for rock’n’roll itself, judging by the many great artists who used the term proudly.
The great Sam Cooke, for instance, whose hit record Twistin’ the Night Away was about a dance club (one of many springing up all over the country. The world.) where rich, poor, old, and young happily twisted together.
About how The Twist was the first great American equalizer.
Sam Cooke must have loved Chubby Checker (we all did.) In another big hit, We’re Havin’ a Party, Mr. Cooke earnestly belts out requests to the resident deejay; songs like Soul Twist and The Mashed Potato (another Chubby Checker contribution that I’ll get to shortly.)
I dunno, I guess Checker’s Hall of Fame detractors forgot about the veritable cornucopia of songs on The Hit Parade whose quaint lyrics simply began with “There’s a new dance … “ (or words to that effect.)
Hit songs like Jackie Lee’s The Duck or The 81 by Candy and the Kisses. Also, Little Eva’s kickass The Loco Motion (to name a few.) Many of these songs even had a fictitious back story about where the dance began (one started in Bristol) and/or who started it (“a cat named Mickey” or “A guy named Sloppy Joe.”)
One of these “brand new dance” songs was The Peppermint Twist by Joey Dee and the Starliters, recorded live at the Peppermint Lounge (one of the aforementioned clubs dotting the landscape). As many of you know, the smokin’ house band, The Starliters, would, soon after, rename themselves The Young Rascals (of Good Lovin’ fame.) One of many future rock stars weaned on The Twist.
In fact, I recently had the good fortune of seeing yet another future legend in an old, hitmaker-filled movie entitled Don’t Knock the Twist, where Chubby Checker himself performed his hit duet Slow Twistin’ with his soulful discovery and firebrand protegee DeeDee Sharp (who gave us Mashed Potato Time.)
Anyway, I recognized Checker’s bass player immediately. It was Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn from the legendary Stax/Volt band, Booker T. and the M.G.s (Green Onions), who backed up most of the label’s top acts (including Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, and Otis Redding.)
You might remember their guitarist, Steve Cropper (an industry giant cited by most of the world’s best players), who gave us that iconic opening riff on Sam and Dave’s Soul Man.
Cropper not only co-wrote and arranged classics like Midnight Hour and Knock on Wood, but also co-wrote and produced the title track of Otis Redding’s most acclaimed LP – Dock of the Bay.
All things considered, I have to assume that Dunn, Cropper, and Redding himself must’ve lovingly discussed Checker at length, given the 1967 LP’s sassy cover of his follow-up 1960 dance hit, The Hucklebuck.
(I guess Jann Wenner was unaware of Checker’s other dance hits besides The Twist.)
Even now, I remember The Hucklebuck well. Not the dance. But the song itself. Especially the catchy melody and amusing lyrical rhyming of “back” and “sacroiliac.”
And of course, the powerful rock’n’roll vocalizing in its own right.
Wow! What range. Tone. Phrasing. To say nothing of the marvelous musicianship of all these session guys on Checker’s tracks.
Even now, I can still hear and sing along with all the back-up singers and baritone sax solos. Note for note. From memory.
And mind you, I was only in grade school at the time; a (first generation) rug rat – the boring, annoying younger brothers and sisters of teenagers.
Admittedly, we weren’t much to look at (and we knew it, too): what with our bad-fitting clothes and lousy haircuts.
Couldn’t dance, either (… at least, not the boys).
But maybe, in a way, that was a good thing.
See, without the flailing limbs and gyrating torsos, we were solely focused on listening.
Listening and memorizing. To us kids, these weren’t dance crazes. Hey, to us, these tracks were pure, kickass rock’n’roll.
Moreover, they were educational. They taught us how to become teenagers (which we coveted.) How to be cool.
And, most importantly, how to fall in love.
Funny, though. Looking back on it, I now believe that teenagers are historically overrated. Hell, man, fact is, I don’t remember any teenagers singing doo wop on the corner … ever!
Too busy dancin’ maybe.
Rather, it was us kids that shamelessly (sometimes half-assedly) sang these ditties in the schoolyards. In the hallways. And on buses and trains, too.
And we weren’t “looking for an echo” either (as the song goes). Echoes be damned.
Oh, and hey, we knew all the lyrics, too.
We especially liked all those oddball, catchy hooks, from the iconic bass vocals on The Marcels’ Blue Moon and the Edsels’ Rama Lama Ding Dong, to the wildly falsetto “Comma-Comma-Commas” on Jimmy Jones’s Handy Man (which I’ll mention again later.) I also remember snarling along to the beautifully dangerous intro of Shimmy Shimmy Koko Bop by Little Anthony and the Imperials.
No surprise, then, that we also enjoyed making a hash of this one, particularly lovable riff, singing “Get With It! … Don’t Quit It! … Boogity-boogity-boogity-boogity-shoop!”
It was the jubilant chorus of Chubby Checker’s Pony Time. Yet another popular dance craze that (like The Hucklebuck) the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame jury might perhaps be uhhhh …
… Unaware of?
Maybe. Although, in its unassuming way, I think it was almost as popular as The Twist insofar as it survived well into the British Invasion and the rise of Motown to become the signature dance move that every so-called go-go dancer did in those minuscule spaces allotted to them by the discotheques, as well as TV shows (like Shindig, Hullabaloo, and Ready, Steady, Go.)
And while they didn’t need much room to do The Pony or The Jerk, their very presence, alone (in their tiny cages), always enhanced the rockin’ excitement of every venue they graced.
Including that of the greatest rock show ever filmed: The T.A.M.I. Show (1964) which featured the world’s biggest stars, including James Brown and The Rolling Stones, ending with the big finale where everyone – performers and dancers alike – were all doing The Pony.
Chubby Checker’s Pony.
And also surviving the fast-moving changes in American culture was yet another fun fad, compliments of Mr. Checker. Namely, The Limbo.
Now, granted, Chubby Checker didn’t invent The Limbo (a Caribbean import), but his 1962 hit, The Limbo Rock made it world famous; that, along with his beloved hit sequel, Let’s Limbo Some More (1963).
And Checker was no slouch, either. That cat could really limbo low. Everyone loved it. In fact, it instantly became an integral part of our summer recreation: beaches, block parties …
… Even weddings, where Let’s Twist Again remained a wedding band standard for decades after. Alas, it was much easier for us to sing than The Twist itself.
Only a truly great vocalist like Chubby Checker could belt out The Twist.
We were, however, able to sing along with his holiday classic, Jingle Bell Rock. Wonderful melody and phrasing. I still remember it wafting through department store speakers every December for years. Got us all in the spirit. Still does.
And, at the risk of sounding maudlin, I can’t recall any period of my childhood when/where Chubby Checker wasn’t enriching our lives with his uniquely positive brand of soulfulness.
Funny, I remember coming home from school one day and finding my young, hip mother relaxing on the couch, enjoying this brand new Chubby Checker 45 that she’d just purchased, called Popeye the Hitchhiker (1962).
Funnier still: It was Mom who informed me that The Hitchhiker was a brand new dance.
I joined her on the couch, and we played it over and over again.
But I digress. Lemme get to the point. In two words: Bad call!
That’s right. Bad call, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (especially you, Jann Wenner.) Youse should be ashamed of yourselves. For your flagrant, embarrassing ignorance of pre-Beatles America along with your inexplicable disregard for ‘dance’ music’s importance and place in rock’n’roll history.
Hell, I bet that none of you have ever even purchased a dance record in your lives.
Too, ahem, unseemly.
Perhaps that is why your incompetent jury failed to even notice the ethereal genius of Motown bassist James Jamerson until he was finally inducted in 2000.
Seventeen years after his death.
Which leads me to further wonder if there’s even one professional musician amongst your board of nominators. Probably not. Right?
Naturally, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will ignore my screed; my rhetorical questions. Even the crickets will fearfully go silent.
Nevertheless, I will feel their tacit annoyance from a distance. Their mutterings, as in:
“… What! Again?! … And who’s this Checker-lovin’ troll? This guttersnipe! This nobody!? … Telling us experts how to do our job …. “
Hmph! Who, indeed? And yes, I am a “nobody.” Not a respected rock’n’roll historian (like, let’s say, the great Manny Mora). Nor am I even a lettered musicologist.
I’m just some guy who was really there at the time. A witness. With a good memory. Even grew up to play professionally, myself, for a while (until decent rehearsal space became too expensive). So naturally, I know a few names and dates.
But hey, since I’m just a “nobody,” how’s about we ask the opinions of “somebodies.” Like the still-living Hall of Fame inductees, for instance.
Let’s start with, let’s say, Ringo Starr.
No not Ringo Starr – The Beatles’ raucously excellent drummer. But Ringo Starr – the solo recording artist (inducted 2015). Does he believe himself to be more worthy than Chubby Checker?
Does he have an opinion at all?
Or how’s about, uhhh, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Taylor (inducted 2000.) Now, just for the sake of argument, I’ll concede that there is such a thing as soft rock; easy listening rock’n’roll.
And yeah, as a former musician myself, I suppose I could rightfully give him points for ‘purity of tone,’ on both vocals and guitar. Also, I deem his original compositions to be both catchy and ‘mathematically’ sound (that matters to me.)
However, it is his three cover recordings that I have an issue with. They would be Handy Man (by Jimmy Jones in 1959), How Sweet It Is (originally by Marvin Gaye in 1965 and later by Junior Walker and the All Stars in 1966), and finally, Mockingbird with then-paramour Carly Simon (first done by Charlie and Inez Fox in 1963.)
Now, hey, feel free to badger, berate, or debate me if you think I’m wrong. But I believe that Taylor literally unrocked all three of these robust classics.
Or did he? …
… I dunno, I suppose one could maybe re-categorize them as non-threatening rock’n’roll recordings. Right?
But why stop there? Why not send the query out to all the still-living inductees. See what they think, en masse. After all, they needn’t be afraid to answer honestly. I mean, it’s not like anyone can kick them off the roster.
Because, in all fairness, you shouldn’t have to take my word for it. Not mine or the multitude of other ‘nobodies’ with whom I’ve discussed this subject.
Truthfully, not one other person I spoke with even knew that Chubby Checker had been snubbed. Reactions/emotions ranged from disbelief to dismay; perplexity to shock …
… To outright anger and disgust.
But now, here’s the final impression that I’ve gotten from all my passionate discussions leading to the reason why more people like me haven’t come to the defense of this multi-generational American icon:
My conclusion? It’s not that people don’t care about Chubby Checker. It’s that they simply don’t care about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame …
… Except perhaps for the inductees themselves – a largely sheltered lot, no doubt unaware of their public’s mass apathy for this so-called ‘honor.’
Including every major rock historian, like the aforementioned Manny Mora. Now, a scholar of his caliber? With his knowledge? Hell, he could probably map out a ‘Darwinian Tree of Life’ type diagram of all the people (musicians, back-up singers, etc.) who Mr. Checker worked with and/or influenced.
No doubt, the branches would twist and turn in many different directions.
However, I would guess that Mr. Mora probably finds the very existence of this banal institution to be, at best, charmingly sophomoric; in a mainstream tourist-friendly sort of way.
©2021 Claude Zwyer
And hey, I’ll be sending a copy of this essay to every oldies station in the USA. Hope it works out.
Clarifying a few things and, hopefully, filling in some of the blanks ...
Chubby's music was off the radio for DECADES ... through no fault of his own, mind you, but thanks to the completely asinine dealings of one Allen B. Klein, who owned all of the Cameo / Parkway masters, the label Checker recorded for in the early '60's.
Klein (yep, the same guy who at one time managed Sam Cooke, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) apparently went to the same School of Marketing as Dave Clark, as both men decided to make their music unavailable for public buying for over 25 years.
The logic behind all of this??? Who knows. It's one of the dumbest strategies I've ever heard.
Had the music been available, it would have stayed on the air on all the oldies stations that were thriving all over the country at the time as America went thru its serious nostalgia craze.
This would have generated royalties for sales AND airplay, benefiting both the record companies and the artists.
Instead, the public was deprived of hearing this music to the point that it was almost becoming forgotten. (Think of the licensing opportunities that never materialized for movies and television commercials! Some of the best known and best loved music of this era had suddenly disappeared!)
As such, in order to get airplay, Chubby had to go out and re-record all of his hits ... and I've got to tell you, these were some of the most faithful re-recordings I've ever heard. He truly did a remarkable job of recreating the sound of the originals. Soon, oldies radio was playing his biggest hits again ("The Twist," "Let's Twist Again" and "Limbo Rock" anyway.)
The Dave Clark Five weren't nearly as fortunate ... although some of the more enterprising jocks would bring in their own records, just to be able to get them on the air.
As for Chubby's attitude about his exclusion from The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, it seems to go thru phases. About twenty years ago, when Forgotten Hits first started, we ran a major campaign for Chubby's rightful inclusion. And then, right in the middle of it, we were contacted by Checker's Official Fan Club and told to back off ... "Don't worry about Chubby," they wrote, "The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame will take care of itself."
Truth is, NO amount of campaigning would have ever had any effect anyway. Right around the same time, we were part of a group that submitted a petition to The Rock Hall with over 10,000 signatures on it, on behalf of Pat Boone ... the guy who brought rock and roll into the homes of Whitebread America, and made it acceptable during the R&B Revolution that launched rock and roll into the stratosphere. We were told that The Rock Hall didn't accept ballots or endorsements from the general public ... because only THEY knew how to properly evaluate and induct the proper candidates and we didn't. (They certainly have proven THAT point over the past twenty years, haven't they???)
But the very idea that an artist's own fan club ... an organization supposedly filled with dedicated fans who want to see the world do right by their heroes ... would tell us to back off spoke volumes. He didn't stand a chance.
But this guy lit up the dance floor from coast to coast when he recorded "The Twist," originally a B-Side for Hank Ballard and The Midnighters that barely raised an eyebrow when they first recorded it the year before.
It was the charisma of Chicken-Plucker Earnest Evans, taken under the wing of Dick Clark and American Bandstand, that had all the kids up on the dance floor, twistin' the night away ... only to see the whole craze kick off again a year later in discotheques around the world with the adult crowd, who were having just as much fun with it as the kids did the year before. Rarely a week went by without seeing some celebrity or political figure swiveling their hips to this amazing record.
THAT is the kind of impression this record made when it was first released ... and then re-released (by popular demand) a year later. (In between, "Let's Twist Again" also shot up the charts.)
Whether it was The Beatles or The Isley Brothers singing "Twist And Shout" ... Sam Cooke or Rod Stewart singing "Twistin' The Night Away" ... The Four Seasons singing about "Sherry's" twist party ... or any other of at least two dozen other hits that included the word "twist" in the title ... (both as a noun AND a verb) ... Chubby created a pop culture phenomena. (And let's not forget all of you teenagers playing the Twister game at your birthday parties ... THAT one caught on with the adults, too, some of whom apparently enjoyed playing it naked! lol) And, if we're going to mention the fact that The Young Rascals sprang from Joey Dee's Starliters, let's also remember that a young guitarist by the name of Jimi Hendrix ALSO performed as part of this band! (I think it is essentially safe to say that nobody alive ... then or since ... doesn't know what "The Twist" is ... how can that massive a change to pop culture be denied???)
Jann Wenner (thankfully, no longer involved with The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame that he founded), certainly held back progress and credibility when it came to some of the early artists who paved the way for rock and roll and all its many side streets and avenues. The truth is, The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame lost ALL measure of credibility under his reign. Even the artists themselves don't believe in it anymore. The hope was that with Jann out of the way, maybe some of these despicable wrongs could finally be righted. Some have ... but not this one. (On the plus side, Chubby's signature song, "The Twist," now IS inducted in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame" ... but only as a song ... and NOT the artist who created the whole movement.)
Chubby was BIG, people ... he married Miss World, for God's sake!!! (Maybe the RRHF big-wigs consider that to be prize enough.)
But all that crap about him being "considered" is bull ... unless they mean that SOMEBODY on the nominating committee smarter than everyone else there casually asked one day, "Hey, what about Chubby Checker? He was pretty good." to a rousing round of "What are you crazy?!?!"'s.
The plain and simple truth is that Chubby has TRULY been denied his rightful spot in The Hall. And that's just wrong. BLATANTLY wrong.
I will tell you this ...
Over the course of the past two and a half decades, I have run at least a dozen pieces similar to this ... profiles of Checker's accomplishments ... criticisms of The Rock Hall for their disgraceful blunder ... news about the reissues (FINALLY!!!) of Chubby's catalog on CD after decades of unavailability ... or concert reviews of the AMAZING show that Chubby still puts on to this day.
Copies of these postings have been forwarded to Mr. Checker and I have never received so much as one single response or acknowledgement for our efforts on his behalf.
This tells me that he is a humble man. (It also tells me that he doesn't need any reminding from me about just how great he really was! lol)
But I don't care.
Because, you see, I didn't write all these things to receive recognition from him ...
I wrote them to receive recognition FOR him.
He can say he doesn't care ... but WE DO!!! And we'll NEVER stop talking about it. (kk)