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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

HOW THE TWIST CHANGED THE WORLD


Last night on public TV Chubby Checker hosted '50s and '60s Party Songs.  He was featured in a book (which you can today buy from Amazon for $0.33)--The  Twist:  The Story of the Song and Dance that Changed the World.  

Sure we have hula and bon dances in Hawaii where people don't touch each other, but growing up at hops and proms, it was either slow dancing or fast with a partner almost never being out of your reach.  That changed with Chubby Checker's Twist, a worldwide dance craze that in the very late '50s featured partners just shaking in front of  each other.  It inspired the Watusi (Orlons--and here's how to dance it, with the originals) Mashed Potato (Dee Dee Sharp) and into every form of boogying now the standard today.  Nobody touches each other anymore...except for, ugh, ballroom dancing.

Actually, it was Hank Ballard and the Midnighters first releasing The Twist in 1959, reaching #28 nationally.  Dick Clark attempted to book Ballard, but was wary of this artist because he had songs like Work with Me Annie.  The lyrics are on the wrong side of what then was approved (note the title of the album).  This "Black" song was covered by Georgia Gibbs (who was born Frieda Lipschitz) as Dance with me Henry, becoming a big hit.  Anyway, Clark decided to hold  auditions and found a chicken plucker (no joke,  he actually worked at Fresh Farm Poultry in Philadelphia) named Earnest Evans, whose name was changed to Chubby Checker, leading to the performance that changed the world of dancing.

Note how many of these appeared in 1962.

Chubby Checker's Twist is the only song in the history of Billboard to attain #1 twice:  one week in September of 1960 and two weeks in January of 1962.  Actually, it made a revival in 1988 featuring The Fat Boys, with Chubby Checker, reaching #2 in the UK and #1 in Germany.

I might comment that host Chubby Checker is 72 and not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The first rock and roll song to gain an Grammy?  In 1962, his "Let's Twist Again."  Hall and Oates got in this year, and in the ceremony, Daryl Hall mentioned that they were the first Philadelphia band to gain this honor, and, regarding Chubby, "Why isn't he here?"  If you like this music, listen to almost 3 hours of super hits of the fifties, sixties and seventies.
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There are two ocean storms.  Hurricane Christina at 80 MPH is off the west last of Mexico, and will strengthen into a Category 2, but appears to be heading nowhere, although cruise ships will have problems:


Perhaps more troublesome is Tropical Cyclone Nanauk in the Indian Ocean heading for Oman:


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