A then 18-year-old Chubby Checker was getting ready to appear on “The Dick Clark Show.”
It took 2 minutes and 42 seconds and Checker’s life was changed forever.
Checker – born Ernest Evans – performed the song, “The Twist,” which was beginning to pick up steam. The song was a cover of Hank Ballard’s release from two years prior.
After the performance, the song hit No. 1 – a place it would return to in 1962, giving Checker a No. 1 single with the same song in two different years.
“It was more than a song or a dance,” Checker says during a recent interview. “It was a movement. When I hear songs today, I hear the essence of ‘The Twist’ in them. I was in high school when this all happened and my life turned upside down. I’ve been touring since I was in the 11th grade.”
Checker will perform a show on Sunday, Nov. 24, at The Showroom at Isleta Resort and Casino.
The 78-year-old performer continues to tour and bring his legendary music to audiences.
He’s seen the music industry change its course plenty of times over the years.
One thing that has remained is the love for his songs such as “The Twist.”
“I have an exciting life and I can’t say anything except every day is exciting,” he says. “I still have the chance to do what I wanted to do since I was 4. My mom took me to the fair to see Ernest Tubb. Once I saw that performance, I wanted to be a performer for the rest of my life.”
Checker spends the majority of his time these days on the road, because it’s familiar.
He’s recorded music over the years and had successes. And he knows he would never match the success of “The Twist.”
“That song is the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts in history,” he says. “They revisit it every 50 years or so and the next time they do one, it will have been nearly 100 years since it debuted. The song is part of the fabric of life.”
Checker will also get a chance to get back to Albuquerque and good ol’ Route 66 when he stops in the city.
“There’s one story sticks out. I was hiking in the mountains in Albuquerque when I was much younger. I twisted my knee and it’s never been the same,” he says with a laugh. “Although I still feel the pain in my knee, Albuquerque holds some very fond memories for me. I remember driving along Route 66 and feeling like I was part of America. It represents an important time in the country.”