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.