Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is a holiday song people either love or hate. This song has hit No. 1 twice, but it isn't the first to hit this milestone. In 1960, Chubby Checker achieved this feat with "The Twist."
Chubby Checker, born Ernest Evans, is an American singer and dancer well known for his songs that would bring dance styles into fashion in the '60s and beyond. His most popular song, "The Twist," is a cover of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters B-side song released in 1958. At 18, Checker released his version after American Bandstand host Dick Clark encouraged him to. Clark wanted Ballard to appear on AB, but he was unavailable. He would then seek out Checker, who had a similar voice, and the rest is history.
Chubby Checker The Twist
Checker's version featured Buddy Savitt on sax and Ellis Tollin on drums, with live performances featuring the dance known as the Twist. In July 1960, Checker would give the debut performance of his version at the Rainbow Club in Wildwood, New Jersey. The song would become a sensation after the August 6, 1960, appearance on American Bandstand. (video below)
"The Twist" would first reach No. 1 on Billboards Hot 100 on September 19, 1960, and stay there for a week. On January 13, 1962, the song would again reach the top spot and remain there for two weeks. This was a record kept by Checker for 58 years. In December 2020, Mariah Carey broke this record with "All I Want For Christmas Is You," which topped the charts for the second time after being No. 1 in December 2019.
Checker would use the popularity of this song and continue the theme with other songs, "Let's Twist Again," "Twistin' U.S.A.," and "Twist It Up." In the 1960s, Checker starred in two films centered on the Twist craze, Twist Around the Clock (1961) and Don't Knock the Twist (1962).
In the 1990s, Nabisco would capitalize on the Twist by featuring Checker in commercials for their famous cookies, Oreos. This would prove to be one of the brand's most successful promotions.
How did Chubby Checker get his name?
While recording his first song with Cameo-Parkway Records, "The Class, in 1959, it was decided that he needed a good stage name. Already called Chubby from his early days working at Fresh Farm Poultry, a name given to him by owner Henry Colt, Barbara Clark, AB host Dick Clark's wife, would be inspired by Fats Domino's name and add Checker to his name.
In 2023, Checker still gets on stage to perform the Twist and is "Always on Tour," according to his website.
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