Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

COME ON BABY. LET’S DO THE TWIST

I get such a big thrill when I read the many comments from all you “Mousers.” I try to answer as many as I can. Don’t get discouraged if I seem to disappear every now and then. I’m writing another book, laying out my DVD, and working on a couple of other exciting things to be revealed later. When they happen you will be the first to know.

The following story gets challenged just about every time I tell it. I thought of it again after watching this year’s Grammy Awards Show (That’s 2006 in case you are reading this 30 or 40 years from now).

Whenever I do a radio, TV or press interview, one question always comes up. “Lloyd, what person and song do you consider had the most impact on rock and roll?” And, my answer is always a surprise. “Chubby Checker and The Twist.”

This year’s Grammy Awards show reminded me once again of this question. If that answer is true, why don’t we ever see Chubby Checker?

Chubby made record industry history back in 1962 when his original 1959 hit record, “The Twist,” re-entered the charts in 1961 and by January of 1962, was back in the #1 position. Chubby Checker is the only artist to have a song be number one -- TWICE.

1962 was also number one for me. That was the year The Lloyd Thaxton Show made its debut. A few weeks before my first show, I was invited to attend a performance featuring this new sensation Chubby Checker. He was performing at the Crescendo nightclub in Hollywood and it was truly a night to remember.

The minute Chubby started singing “The Twist,” everyone in the totally packed audience jumped up and started dancing on top of the tables. I had never seen anything like that before (or since) in my life. It was surreal. But here is the most unbelievable part: There wasn’t one teen-ager in the joint.

A good rock band or singer can drive just about any audience to frenzy. But what I was witnessing here was truly a first; Adults dancing wildly to teen-age music – in public. With one song Chubby Checker had introduced adults to the pleasures of Rock and Roll. Almost overnight the famous Pepperment Twist Lounge opened in New York City. Hollywood’s Pepperment West opened soon after. Pepperment Lounge wanabes started opening all over the country. This, rock fans, was the birth of the “Discothèque.” The music scene was changed forever. Rock and Roll no longer belonged just to Teens.

And, a completely new way of dancing was born: “Dancing apart to the beat.” Think about it. When was the first time you saw your parents attempt to dance the twist? I’m sure you couldn’t stop laughing. Actually it was kind of embarrassing, right?

I give credit to Chubby Checker and “The Twist” for the success of The Lloyd Thaxton Show. Adults, who were just starting to go out to the various dance spots, started watching the show to learn how to do this popular new dance. With the combination of my teen audience plus all those new adult fans, the show’s ratings went through the ceiling. I owe Chubby Checker. He kick-started my career and a lot of others.


His success led to other dance phenomena as "The Jerk", "The Hully Gully", "The Mash Potato," "The Swim,” and many more. And, opened the door for the Beatles to just slide right in behind. The rest, as they say, is history. People of all ages went out dancing again. Only this time, they were “Dancing apart to the beat.”

Back to the Grammy Awards Show; I certainly enjoyed seeing Paul McCartney, Sly Stone, and all the other artists and groups who got their start and fame in the 60s. But I missed Chubby Checker. How about next year, Grammy folks? Don’t wait until he isn’t around any more and give him one of those too-late posthumous awards. Give him his credit now.

And while we’re on the subject: how about that Rock and Roll hall of Fame?

Come on Baby. Let’s do the Twist.

11 Comments:

Blogger jtbwriter said...

"Like we did last summer....."

You're right-I'm tired of the people who've made a difference in music...TV...Radio...Movies, you name it..sports; being neglected until that wreath appears on their star or plaque.

I'd like to see Chubby Checker get a Grammy Achievement-maybe if enough of us write the Recording Academy they'll consider it for next year.

Doesn't hurt to try.

9:53 PM

 
Blogger THE ROCK RELIC said...

Oh, MAN, do I remember the twist! Not only a cool dance, but it was touted among the L-7s (does anybody remember that term, and WHY??) as being "good exercise." First dance I knew of that actually had BOTH sides of the tracks' approval.
Of course, it had its downside: See, when I tried it the first time (in the back of the basement where nobody'd see me and laugh), my folks walked in, already calculating the amount of gas and time it would take to get me to a shrink. Then they tried it ... once. Friends, there's only one thing worse that you wouldn't wanna catch your parents doing together, but I'm not gonna go into that here.
I think I lost ten pounds that day (and one of my kidneys. Remember the pain in your side the first time? Who ever talks about their 'first time' anymore, anyway?) ... and I was only 120 pounds at the time!
But it was all the rage at the time ... and continues to this day! No dance has ever beaten it!
As far as Chubby goes: As I understand it, Spring Gulley, SC's favorite son has ventured into rap music (always the pioneer!) and has repeatedly asked for a high spot on the R&R Hall of Fame. Gotta agree ... he turned on a generation -- primed the teen scene for the rock that was to follow two years later -- and, most importantly, did more to integrate audiences than any other act. Everybody wanted to do the twist.
Hey - let's all just drop our WMDs, ADDs, BPDs, even our BVDs if necessary, and twist again, like we did last summer (providing you still live in 1962!). Maybe if we could get George W. and the Iraqis on the dance floor to twist just once, we could have peace!

9:55 PM

 
Blogger EV Rider said...

"His success led to other dance phenomena as "The Jerk", "The Hully Gully", "The Mash Potato," "The Swim,” and many more. And, opened the door for the Beatles to just slide right in behind. The rest, as they say, is history." ...

Glad you touched on the years 1962-63 in this blog, Lloyd, because a lot of people may have forgotten that the whole nation went through the extreme trauma of having their President assassinated on November 22, 1963, and for a few months at least, a lot of people lost their desire to dance during the time of mourning that followed that tragic event...

That is, until the Beatles made their first debut on the Ed Sullivan show, and kids started screaming hysterically for something quite new and different.

The Beatles and especially their music helped to lift people out of the doldrums from their terrible loss just a few short months before.

We can hardly imagine today what a different world it would be if Chubby Checker, JFK, the Beatles, etc., etc., had not come along when they did, but it's worth remembering just the same.

6:28 AM

 
Blogger Gary said...

I remember when the Twist was big when I was about 5. My older brothers and I would have our own Twist contests in our bedrooms and on our beds. THAT was hard! HA HA Being a little 5 year old kid, though, they always voted me as the best twister in the family. It was the greatest thing since TV dinners.....until the 4 long-hairs from England came along.
Gary

2:33 PM

 
Blogger Ted Alvy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lloyd
Still trying to post a comment. I'll try again...

Good to hear from you. The story of me tracking down the theme to your "Funny You Should Ask" show is one of my better stories.

Using the "wayback machine" to refresh my memory
on the twist. I believe that Zsa Zsa Gabor was responsible for the song charting the 2nd time.

earl

11:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't watch the grammy's, One of the show I did like was the beg night for pbs when they do the doo wop songs with the old groups very nice to remember a better time.

11:51 PM

 
Blogger The Corp said...

Lloyd,
I believe my dad was working at KCOP when you were doing your show.

I was even on your show. One day who walked in was Sonny Bono wearing a suit. I remember you say, "Hey guys, this promo man Sonny Bono."

Anyway Lloyd ... great to see you blogging

Steve Fischler

11:48 AM

 
Anonymous Dana said...

I had the pleasure of doing some fun photography of Chubby Checker in summer 2004 when he appeared at the San Diego County Fair where I worked in Media Relations. This guy was twisting with everyone in sight (including the Queen of the Fair, the security officer on duty and the grounds workers)from 7 a.m. when he did the first local TV spot to the end of his second concert in the afternoon. He was too much! I never saw him in person back in his early days, but he certainly has plenty energy now. I get a side ache just watching the twist!

4:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a "kid" when I got my first job working at KCOP - and you had your show. I often wonder what ever happened to Renee Maltz and Sam Ash..So long ago and yet the memories linger.

Lynda Parets

7:36 AM

 
Blogger Cinerina said...

I was born in 1970 and I know what L-7 means! Do it with your hands, make two L's with your hands but hold them so one looks like an L and one like a 7 - then touch them and you make a SQUARE. L-7 means square, daddy-o! And as we all know, Square means not cool.

1:13 PM

 

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