Which artist sang the song The Twist

The Twist (song) - The Twist (song)

" The twist "is an American pop song written and originally released by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters as the b-side of" Teardrops on Your Letter "in 1958. Ballard's version was a moderate hit, peaking at number 28 in the US Billboard Hot 100. In the US Billboard Hot R & B Sides table, the original version of "The Twist" reached 16th place for the first time in 1959 and 6th place in 1960.

Chubby Checker's 1960 cover version of the song spawned the Twist Dance Craze. His single became a hit, reaching number 1 on September 19, 1960 Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for a week, and at that time set a record as the only song that reached number 1 in two different hit parade runs. On January 13, 1962, it reappeared and led the popular hit parade for two weeks again. This would not be the case for nearly 59 years until December 2020, when Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" peaked after previously taking first place in another separate chart run in December 2019.

In 1988 "The Twist" became popular again due to a re-recording of The Fat Boys song with Chubby Checker. This version reached number 2 in the UK and number 1 in Germany. 2014 stated that Billboard Magazine made the song the "biggest hit" of the 1960s.


The songs about the twist go back to the minstrels of the 19th century, including "Grape Vine Twist" from around 1844. In 1938 Jelly Roll Morton sang in "Winin 'Boy Blues": "Mama, Mama, look at you sister, she is outside." on the levee doing the double twist "- a reference to sex and dancing in those days. Regarding that particular song," The Twist, "Hank Ballards guitarist, Midnighters member Cal Green said they had the general idea of Brother Joe Wallace was picked up by the gospel group The Sensational Nightingales, whose position and associated image problems prevented him from recording the song himself. Many years later, Midnighters' member Lawson Smith recalled in an interview with Tom Meros that is currently available online, different about the authorship of "The Twist" when Nathaniel Bills of The Sensational Nightingales wrote the song instead. Green and Ballard had previously written a song together called "Is Your Love for Real," based on Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters' 1955 song "What'cha Gonna Do" was based. They created a whole new song just by adding the new one older tune. They originally recorded a loose version of the song in a Florida studio for Vee-Jay Records in early 1958 with slightly different lyrics in which Green played guitar like Jimmy Reed. This version appeared on the box set "The Vee-Jay Story" in 1993, but was not released at the time. They didn't get to record the published version until November 11, 1958, while the Midnighters were in Cincinnati. Ballard thought "The Twist" was the hit side, but King Records producer Henry Glover preferred the ballad "Teardrops on Your Letter," which he wrote himself.

Chubby Checker Version

The song became popular on a television dance show in Baltimore hosted by local DJ Buddy Deane. Deane recommended the song to Dick Clark, the host of the National American bandstand . When the song became popular with its audience, Clark tried to book Ballard for the show. Ballard wasn't available and Clark was looking for a local artist to record the song. He chose Checker, whose voice was very similar to Ballards. Checker's version featured Buddy Savitt on saxophone and Ellis Tollin on drums with background vocals from the Dreamlovers. The exposure of the song on American bandstand and in who wore Dick Clark Saturday Night Show helped to get the song to the top of the American charts.

In July 1960 Checker played "The Twist" for the first time to a live audience at the Rainbow Club in Wildwood, New Jersey, and only a few weeks later, on August 6, 1960, the song became a national sensation after Checker performed it Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

At the end of 1961 and beginning of 1962, the twist madness in high society was belatedly established. Sightings of celebrities doing the dance made the song a hit with adults, especially according to a report in the Cholly Knickerbocker gossip column. Soon there were long lines at New York's Peppermint Lounge nightclub, the most popular celebrity twisting spot. This new interest made "The Twist" the first recording to hit number one on the US charts in two separate runs, and marked a major turning point in adult acceptance of rock and roll music.

Checker re-recorded the song several times. An updated recording from 1982 (from his album The Change Has Come ) was called "T-82" and recorded a country version in the 1990s. In the late 1970s he recorded a new version that was identical to the original from 1960 except for the sound mix and a few minor arrangement changes. As a result, this later version is often incorrectly identified as the original recording in compilations. In 1988 he took part in a rap version of the song with The Fat Boys, which landed at number 2 in Great Britain, number 16 in the USA and number 1 in Germany and Switzerland. Checker joined the group to perform the song at a London tribute concert for Nelson Mandela this summer. In addition, he incorporated variations on the theme such as "Let's Twist Again" to keep the craze alive (although "Let's Twist Again" was and has remained more popular in the UK than "The Twist" itself). Joey Dee and the Starliters, the Peppermint Lounge House Band, scored one hit with "Peppermint Twist," while other artists, including Sam Cooke, scored songs with other "Twist" themes. In Europe, Petula Clark achieved hits with "twist" -thought records in several countries, while Bill Haley and His Comets recorded several albums with twist songs in Mexico for the Orfeon Records label. In 1997 the song was published in a Teledyne Waterpik commercial and in 1998 in a Denny's commercial to promote the New Slams.

In the sixth episode of the second season of the TV series Quantum Leap entitled "Good Morning, Peoria" (discontinued September 9, 1959), Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) and Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) a kiss with history, meeting Chubby Checker (played by himself) at a radio station (Sam jumps into a radio DJ named Chick Howell) where they do "The Twist" singing and dancing. An impressed chubby asks, "Can I use this train?" Sam replies, "Yah, but I got it from you!"

Weekly charts


According to Billboard "The Twist" had the honor of number one on its "Hot 100 50th Anniversary" list, "The." for the first 50 years of the Hot 100 charts Billboard Being All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs "is retained by freeing this honor in re-tabulated lists." Billboard in 2013, 2015 and for the "60th Anniversary Hot 100" chart of the Billboard All-Time Hot 100 Top 600 Songs.

The song ranks 451 on the list of the 500 greatest songs of all time Rolling Stone Magazine. Jim Dawson wrote a book on the song and the twist phenomenon in 1995 called The Twist: The Story of Song and Dance that Made the World changed for Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-19852-8.  

The song was entered into the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress on March 21, 2013 for long-term retention. 2014 stated that Billboard Magazine made the song the "biggest hit" of the 1960s.

In 2018, Checker's version was one of six singles inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a new category, honoring singles by artists who were not voted into the hall.


  • USA: Hank Ballard and the Midnighters: "Teardrops on Your Letter" b / w "The Twist" 1959
  • USA: Chubby Checker: "The Twist" b / w "Toot" Parkway 811; 7/60
  • USA: Chubby Checker: "The Twist" b / w "Twistin 'USA" Parkway 811; 11/61

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