Ernest Evans, better known as Chubby Checker, is best known for introducing the concept of “dancing apart to the beat,” a move he created with his first hit single, “The Twist” in 1960.
This year, the Grange Fair was lucky enough to snag the idol for an Aug. 27 performance.
Evans was born Ernest Evans in Spring Gulley, S.C., but grew up in South Philadelphia, where he lived with his parents and two brothers.
When he was young, his mother took him to see Sugar Child Robinson, a child piano prodigy, and the famous country singer Ernest Tubb.
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The boy was so impressed, he decided that day he would enter show business. Evans then started working toward that goal by assembling a street-corner harmony group when he was only 11.
Music was always a part of his life, even when it was just for fun.
According to his website, Evans loved to sing and crack jokes at his various jobs, including at Fresh Farm Poultry and at the Produce Market. It was his boss at the Produce Market who gave Evans the nickname Chubby.
In 1961, Evans recorded “Pony Time,” written by Don Covay and John Berry. It quickly reached the No. 1 spot and stayed on the charts for 16 weeks.
In the fall of 1961, Evans’ original hit record “The Twist” made history when it re-entered the charts, and by January 1962, it was back in the No. 1 spot.
This was a first — no record before or since has earned the top spot twice.
Combining its 1960 run with its return, “The Twist” spent a total of nine months on the U.S. best-seller charts.
Evans’ success is not a thing of the past.
In 2007, he returned to the charts with “Knock Down the Walls,” the Billboard No. 1 dance track.
After more than 50 years of performing, it would be no surprise if Evans had tired himself out. However, this is not the case.
“It’s the fans,” Evans said on his website. “The energy I get from singing and dancing with all these people over the years is unlike anything else I experience. I never want it to end.”