Checker, Chubby [Evans, Ernest]
- Randolph Love
(b Spring Gulley, SC, Oct 3, 1941). American popular singer and songwriter. He began his singing career in Philadelphia at the age of 11, forming a group named the Quantrells. As a teenager he entertained customers while plucking chickens at the city’s market. Its owner, Henry Colt, introduced Evans to Karl Mann of Cameo-Parkway Records, with which he signed a recording contract in 1958. In 1960 Checker covered “The Twist,” a song that had been released about a year earlier as a B-side by Hank Ballard on the label Vee-Jay. Although he later claimed that the song “ruined” his life—“I was on my way to becoming a big nightclub performer,” he said, “and ‘The Twist’ just wiped it out”—his note-for-note cover sealed his fame in pop music history. Released under the name Chubby Checker—a play on Fats Domino—(Cameo Parkway Records, 811) his version not only rose to number one, but also spawned an enormous dance craze. Capitalizing on this success, Checker released a series of dance hits including “The Fly,” “Pony Time,” and “Let’s Twist Again,” which won a Grammy Award in ...