Hank Ballard, of Detroit, wrote “The Twist,” recorded it in 1959, and had a minor hit with it. Chubby Checker, of Philadelphia, recorded a cover the next year. In the summer of 1960, he started performing it live at the Rainbow Club in Wildwood, and by fall of that year, it was a national sensation.
“Rock and roll had a sound, a beat, but it didn’t have a dance,” Checker told NJ Monthly in 2010. “Not until Wildwood and the twist … When I did the twist in Wildwood, nothing was the same after that.”
The song had another surge of popularity in 1962, and hit No. 1 a second time then. It also inspired a slow of spinoffs, including “Peppermint Twist,” by New Jersey’s own Joey Dee and the Starliters.
The Rainbow Club is long gone. But on Sunday, Checker, now 73, will perform at the Wildwood Block Party & Music Festival at Fox Park in Wildwood. For information, visit wildwoodsnj.com.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until Sept. 8, 2015.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.