First Hit #1: September 19, 1960
It must be terrible to be a one hit wonder. No matter what you do, how many songs you record or how long you stay in the business, it’s all about the first big hit you had. You could record the greatest album in the history of the universe, and people would still show up at your concerts playing your breakthrough track. What must be even worse is being someone with several hits, but only one anyone ever talks about, like Chubby Checker.
The Twist was a pretty huge track, so huge it actually shows up again in two years time. It defined Checker’s career from the outset, so much so that he recorded a sequel the next year and many other tracks either trying to establish new dances or recalling that big success. In a way, it’s his own fault that he’s associated with twists, twisting and so on. The somewhat sad thing is there’s nothing about the Twist that necessarily suggests this is a performer with limited range. It’s got simple, but pretty decent lyrics, and a rocking sound that makes dancing to it fun – specifically twisting, of course. It’s lively, it’s exciting, and it’s a well done tune. It’s qualities also could translate to other songs about other things, but from the songs he recorded it seems that Checker somehow lacked confidence in his other ideas. As a result, Checker is associated with the twist and little else.