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Chubby Checker twists, thrills in GPAC

Wade Allen
Sept. 11, 2009

Chubby CheckerMore than 1,000 fans of all ages watched in amazement as 68-year-old rock and roll icon Chubby Checker worked his way through nearly two hours of the biggest dance hits of the 1960s on Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. in GPAC. 

“I’m the wheel that rock rolls on,” Checker said.

The 68-year-old was on campus kicking off GPAC’s nostalgia concert series.  He is known worldwide for his hit song, “The Twist” which, according to Checker, is the only song in music history to hit number one twice. 

“It was the number one song of the Sixties decade,” Checker said.  “On Sept. 8 of last year, it was voted the number one song of all-time.  No other song has been number one twice.”

The show lasted nearly two hours and was followed by an autograph signing in the GPAC lobby, with Checker having merchandise for sale

During the show, he invited several men and women to join him onstage to dance with him, while he belted out the hits that made him a rock and roll legend.

Checker’s career began in 1959 and skyrocketed when he appeared on American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark.  Checker would appear on the show and dance his new techniques on television, and he said that the public took notice.

Chubby Checker“Everyone watched Bandstand,” Checker said.  “They saw it and then they did it.”
“The Twist” pioneered its way into history because the movements involved dancing with a partner but having no physical contact with them. 

Checker won a Grammy award in 1962 for his number one hit, “Let’s Twist Again.”  He said that it was the first rock and roll song to earn a Grammy and the first to hit platinum in record sales. 

Throughout the 1960s, Checker had a string of dance hits including “The Twist,” “Limbo Rock,” “The Hucklebuck,” and “Pony Time.”  He said that these songs defined how people have danced to rock and roll from 1950 until the present.

“We opened a door,” Checker said.  “The way we dance is as old as my career.  When the kids go out and dance now, I’m the guy,” Checker said. 

Among his influences, Checker credits legendary artists Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.

“All of these people are part of what I do,” he said.  “It’s quite amazing.”


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