Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy 75th birthday, Chubby Checker!

Happy 75th birthday to the incomparable Chubby Checker, king of "The Twist," Rock & Roll icon and Wildwood legend!

Born Ernest Evans in Spring Gully, South Carolina on this date in 1941, Checker was raised in the projects of South Philadelphia. Displaying immense talent at an early age, he formed a street corner harmony group by age 8.

Checker took piano lessons at the Settlement Music School, while attending South Philadelphia High School, where he would entertain classmates with vocal impressions of the day's popular artists such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino.

In the late 1950's, after impressing customers and shop owners while working at the Italian Market, Checker scored a contract with Cameo-Parkway Records.

Soon after came his big break.

In July 1960, at the Rainbow Club in downtown Wildwood (today the site of Cattle 'n Clover), Checker introduced his version of "The Twist." It didn't take long for the subsequent recording of the song to become a smash hit, setting off a national dance craze and catapulting Checker to superstar status.

"The Twist" went on to become the only single to top the Billboard Hot 100 twice, in two separate chart runs.

In 2008, Checker's version of the song was named the biggest chart hit of all time by Billboard magazine, which looked at all singles that made the charts over the 50-year span that began in 1958.

Of course, there is much, much more to Checker and his career than "The Twist"; but the song and dance movements he created remain his biggest claim to fame, as well as one of the most significant contributions to the Wildwoods' place in rock & roll/music/pop culture history.

On Labor Day 2015, Chubby Checker was honored with his own Wildwood Icon Mural near the corner of Pacific & Garfield, about a block away the former site of the Rainbow Club.

He was on hand that day to help dedicate the 12-by-14 foot painting, created by artist Susan Daly.

Amid a large gathering of onlookers and local dignitaries, Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano declared September 7 "Chubby Checker Day" in the city, further cementing Checker's legacy in the place where his career was launched into the stratosphere.

No comments:

Post a Comment