Best Known For
Chubby Checker was an early rock 'n' roller who had a hit with the song and dance sensation, "The Twist."
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
American singer Chubby Checker was born as Ernest Evans on October 3, 1941, in Spring Gulley, South Carolina. Checker performed on the Philadelphia streets before signing with Cameo-Parkway Records in 1959 and recording his version of Hank Ballard's "The Twist." An appearance on "American Bandstand" made the song a No. 1 hit and dance sensation. Checker still performs today and was featured in a popular ad for Nabisco's Oreo cookies.
Born as Ernest Evans on October 3, 1941 in Spring Gulley, South Carolina, Chubby Checker (as he later became known) was the son of a tobacco farmer. Checker's family moved to Philadelphia, and as a young boy, he worked various jobs shining shoes, selling ice and assisting in a butcher's shop. Because of his heavy build, he got his nickname, Chubby, while working as a teen at Tony Anastazi's Produce Store. With a natural gift for imitation, he enjoyed impersonating the styles of his musical heroes Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. He began performing in churches and on the streets with his singing group, The Quantrells, and soon attracted the attention of music executives in Philadelphia.
Checker signed with Cameo-Parkway Records in 1959. His first two singles, "The Class" and "Dancing Dinosaur" were minor hits. Cameo encouraged him to make his own version of "The Twist," a song originally written and performed by Hank Ballard, which was already having modest success on the charts. But it was Checker's version and his accompanying dance routine that gave the song new life. He was dubbed "The King of the Twist." In fact, it was Dick Clark's wife who came up with the name Checker, a reference to the similarity between the portly singer and Fats Domino.
As a dance movement, "The Twist" revolutionized popular culture by giving couples the freedom to break apart on the dance floor. An appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand launched Checker's version of "The Twist" to the No. 1 billboard spot in August 1961, where it remained on the charts for 18 straight weeks. In November of that year, it re-entered the charts again for a record-breaking 21 weeks. With this formidable achievement, "The Twist" became the first and only 45 single to ever appear in the No. 1 spot in two different years.
Although Checker recorded many more songs in the following years, none ever matched the success of "The Twist." He continued to capitalize on the twist theme with similarly titled songs, such as "Twistin' U.S.A." and "Twist it Up" in the early 1960s, and even "Let's Twist Again" in 1999. He also starred in two films featuring the twist sensation, Twist Around the Clock (1961) and Don't Knock the Twist (1962).
Prominent advertisers have also borrowed the "twist" concept. In the early 1990s, for instance, Nabisco featured Checker twisting the Oreo cookie, resulting in one of the company's most successful promotions ever.
Checker married Rina Lodder in 1964. They have three children.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
profile name: Chubby Checker profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
When musicians land big fame, there typically comes a moment of reinvention in which the "rock star" identity is born. This new persona often requires a new name, a way to differentiate between the private and public versions of themselves. Musical monikers take different forms, from the simple, last-name changes aimed at boosting celebrity appeal—like Steven Tyler—to the glamorized version of a childhood nickname—like Jay-Z. Musicians' nicknames and aliases tend to take on an identity all their own over time, often becoming as full of personality as the artists they represent.
Musical Monikers 109 people in this group
In entertainment, where the line between fiction and reality is often blurry, names are a crucial part of a celebrity's image. Stage names are often chosen to make an actor or musician's name easier to pronounce or remember, or simply to make it sounds more attractive. Here are famous celebrities who have changed their names.
Name Changers 236 people in this group
Explore our collection of some of the most famous performers of the highly anticipated Super Bowl from the 1970s through today, including Ella Fitzgerald, Chubby Checker, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, the Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, Madonna, Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj, Usher and Beyoncé.
Super Bowl Halftime Performers 70 people in this group
presented by Super Bowl Halftime