What did Chubby Checker do after recording “The Twist”? His homework.
“I hadn’t graduated high school yet. My grades [were] not as good as I wanted them to be! Little did I know that we were going to change the world … change the dance floor.”
On the latest episode of the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, Checker joins host and Billboard co-director of charts Gary Trust to talk about his career, which hit iconic heights when “The Twist” became the only song ever to top Billboard Hot 100 in two separate release cycles, in 1960 and again in 1962. The song continues to reign as the Hot 100’s all-time No. 1, as crowned in 2008, 2013 and 2015, when Billboard has recapped the chart’s biggest hits ever, dating to the ranking’s inception on Aug. 4, 1958 (happy 58th, Hot 100!)
The appeal of “The Twist”? “I think what rock and roll didn’t have was a dance,” Checker says. “The young people were doing the dances of the ’30s and ’40s. The kids did not have their own dance. Then, Chubby Checker came along with ‘The Twist.’ For the first time, you [could] watch your girlfriend, fully dressed, exploiting her sexuality right in front of you.
“That wasn’t there before, that style of dancing … you’re watching her, she’s watching you … it was so explosive, it’s never left the dance floor.”
Checker, 74, further touches on his legacy built over six decades; how he wishes that “The Twist” received more radio airplay today; and how, despite his status as rock royalty (and his still busy touring and recording schedule), “I’m not friends with many entertainers. They’re into things I’m not into,” he says. “I’m a pretty straight guy. I’m home. My wife and I go to the movies.
“The only time I’m Chubby Checker is when I go into the phone booth and change.”
A sampling of previous episodes:
WFUV’s Rita Houston / Perez Hilton / Dave Cobb & Jed Hill on Americana Music / SiriusXM’s Kid Kelly / Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn / RCA’s Joe Riccitelli on Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake / Mike Curb / Hit Songs Deconstructed on Drake & Selena Gomez / Fred Bronson / Chart Beat Founder Paul Grein
Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and check back for more upcoming episodes with label execs, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more (when the podcast returns with more new episodes next month). And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!