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Chubby Checker’s Twist is biggest hit of all time

This is a huge surprise. I decided to check out Billboard Magazine’s list of the All Time Top 100 songs and what do you know. Topping the list is not anything by the Beatles or Madonna or even Michael Jackson. It is The Twist, a recording made in 1960 by a young singer from Philadelphia named Chubby Checker of a composition by Hank Ballard.

Only senior citizens of above 60 years old probably remember The Twist and Chubby, who pop legend has it was actually born Ernest Evans but changed his name to something resembling that of his idol Fats Domino. You know, fat is also chubby and checkers is also a popular board game like dominoes. And the cute Chubby Checker certainly looked like his name when he embarked on his recording career.

Checker, while not pop idol handsome like the other heartthrobs of the time, Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, etc, proved appealing enough to the public. And the dance he popularized, also called the Twist became a worldwide phenomenon. It was a time wherein age or income, level of education and anything else, were factors that could affect the popularity of a dance craze. As in teens not dancing like adults or vice versa. The twist changed that. Everybody, from six to 60 or older, rich or poor, brainy or not, did the twist.

There has not been anything like the Twist in the years since then. Checker himself recorded Limbo Rock and the dance became popular but it is now more of a party game. He also tried with The Hucklebuck, The Fly, The Mess-Around and Pony Time. But although those songs sold a lot of 45 RPMs, the dances failed to catch on.  There was also La Macarena by Los Del Rios for line dancing, some 20 years ago, but its popularity lasted only for a brief time. The Twist though sent an entire generation twisting and sent Checker off to a very successful career.

Checker is now in his 70s, and remains active in the entertainment circuit. I would sometimes see him on TV, acting in some shows or in the news or singing. He still does The Twist but now also sings other serious stuff and he is really quite a good singer. But it will really take a lot of effort for him to be identified as such. To everybody, he will forever be the guy who did The Twist. More so now that Billboard has proclaimed his big accomplishment to the whole world.

As for the list, Billboard Magazine is celebrating 55 years of its Hot 100 hit tabulation and has come up with a list of the All-Time Top 100 Songs that made the chart. This is wherein The Twist came out on top. The song made it twice to the top of the Hot 100 for a total of three weeks. First on 1960 and then again early in 1962 after the dance caught on with the adult market.

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The list makes for a truly fascinating read, not only for those in the music business or plain music lovers, it actually feels like an enjoyable lesson on pop culture. And you can just imagine the flood of memories that comes with every song you remember in the list. Nostalgia overload! There are also lists for the Top 100 Artists, the Artists with the Most Number Ones, the Most Number Twos and others. Check out the Billboard website and enjoy.

The other songs that made the Top 20 of the All Time Top 100 are: Smooth by Santana featuring Rob Thomas 1999; Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin 1959; How Do I Live by LeAnn Rimes 1997; Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock, 2011; I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas 2009; Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) by Los Del Rico, 1996; Physical by Olivia Newton John 1981; You Light Up My Life by Debbie Boone 1977; Hey Jude by The Beatles 1968.

We Belong Together by Mariah Carey 2005; Un-Break My Heart by Toni Braxton 1996; Yeah! By Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris 2004; Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes 1981; Endless Love by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie 1981; Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright) by Rod Stewart 1976; You Were Meant For Me/ Foolish Games by Jewel 1997; (Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams 1991; I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men, 1994; and The Theme from A Summer Place by Percy Faith 1960.

The Top 20 names in the Top 100 Artists listing are: The Beatles; Madonna; Elton John; Elvis Presley; Mariah Carey; Stevie Wonder; Janet Jackson; Michael Jackson; Whitney Houston; The Rolling Stones; Paul McCartney/ Wings; the Bee Gees; Chicago; Usher; Rihanna; The Supremes; Daryl Hall and John Oates; Prince; Rod Stewart; and Olivia Newton-John.

 

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