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The Twist (song): Wikis


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"The Twist"
Single by Chubby Checker
B-side "Toot" (1960)
"Twistin' USA" (1961)
Released July 1960; December 1961
Format 7", 45rpm
Recorded 1960
Genre Rock and roll
Length 2:52
Label Parkway Records 811
Writer(s) Hank Ballard
Chubby Checker singles chronology
"Dancing Dinosaur"
"The Twist"
"The Hucklebuck"
Audio sample
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"The Twist" is a twelve bar blues song that gave birth to the Twist dance craze. The song was written and originally released in 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters as a B-side (to "Teardrops on Your Letter") but his version was only a moderate 1960 hit, peaking at 28 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] The song, and the dance the Twist, was popularized in 1960 when the song was covered by Chubby Checker. His single became a smash hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 19, 1960 (one week), and then setting a record by being the only single to reach number one in two different chart runs when it resurfaced and topped the chart again on January 13, 1962 (two weeks).

Checker re-recorded the song numerous times. An updated 1982 recording (from his album The Change Has Come) was retitled "T-82", and in the 1990s, he recorded a country version. In the late 1970s, he recorded a new version that, except for the sound mix and some minor arrangement changes, was identical to the 1960 original; as a result this later version is often misidentified on compilations as the original recording. Checker also recorded variations on the theme, such as "Let's Twist Again (Like We Did Last Summer)" to keep the craze alive (although "Let's Twist Again" was and has remained more popular than "The Twist" itself in the United Kingdom).

In 1988, the song "The Twist" became popular once again, due to a new recording of the song by The Fat Boys featuring Chubby Checker. This version reached number two in the United Kingdom and number one in Germany.


The Song's Sources

Songs about doing the Twist went back to nineteenth-century minstrelsy, including "Grape Vine Twist" from around 1844. In 1938 Jelly Roll Morton, in "Winin' Boy Blues," sang, "Mama, mama, look at sis, she's out on the levee doing the double twist"--a reference to both sex and dancing in those days. As for this particular song, "The Twist," Hank Ballard's guitarist, Cal Green, said they picked up the general idea from Brother Joe Wallace of the gospel group The Sensational Nightingales, who of course couldn't record it himself. Green and Ballard already had written a song together called "Is Your Love For Real," which they'd taken from Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters' 1955 song "What'cha Gonna Do," so they simply put the new Twist words to the older melody--and voila! "The Twist" They originally recorded a loose version of the song in a Florida studio in early 1958, with slightly different lyrics, featuring Green on guitar playing like Jimmy Reed. However, they didn't get around to recording the released version until November 11, 1958, when the Midnighters were in Cincinnati. Ballard thought "The Twist" was the hit side, but King Records producer Henry Glover preferred the ballad "Teardrops on Your Letter," which he'd written himself.


According to Billboard Magazine, "The Twist" held the honor of being the number-one song on its "Hot 100 50th Anniversary" list of "The Billboard: All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs" in the first 50 years of the Hot 100 chart[2].

The song is ranked number 451 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The song is featured on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack released May 1, 2007.

Jim Dawson wrote a 1995 book about the song and the Twist phenomenon called The Twist: The Story of the Song and Dance That Changed the World for Faber & Faber ISBN 780571 198528


  • "Come on, baby, let's do the twist!"
  • "Take the world by the hand and do the twist!" - line from The Fat Boys' version


  • USA: Hank Ballard and the Midnighters: "Teardrops on Your Letter" b/w "The Twist" 1959
  • USA: Chubby Checker: "The Twist" b/w "Toot" Parkway 811; 7/60
  • USA: Chubby Checker: "The Twist" b/w "Twistin' USA" Parkway 811; 11/61


External links

Preceded by
"It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (first run)
September 19, 1960 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" by Connie Francis
Preceded by
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (second run)
January 13, 1962 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Peppermint Twist - Part I" by Joey Dee and the Starliters


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