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Rock Hall of Fame’s Greatest Snub

Chubby Checker has the #1 song of all time and started a dance that lives to this day, so why does the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snub him every year?

Larry Mendte




It is an absolute outrage.

I recently interviewed  Chubby Checker for a TV show.  In my research, I was stunned to discover that the ground breaking music legend is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.  It is like leaving Babe Ruth out of Cooperstown or Johnny Unitas out of Canton.

If you think for a second that those sports comparisons are exaggerated, consider just some of the accolades and firsts attributed to Chubby Checker.

  • “The Twist” is the #1 song of all time according to Billboard Magazine.
  • “Let’s Twist Again” is the first record ever to go platinum.
  • “Let’s Twist Again” won the first Grammy for a Rock and Roll recording.
  • Checker is the only artist ever to have 5 albums in the top 12 at the same time
  • Chubby Checker was the first music artist to perform at half time of a Super Bowl.

When I sat down with the 73-year-old singer-songwriter. who is still performing and was promoting a concert tour, he seemed unfazed by the slight.  “They’ll get around to it,” he responded with a smile, after I expressed my outrage.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.

In 2014, Hall and Oates were inducted.  During their speech, Daryl Hall lamented that the duo were the first Philadelphia artists get into the Hall.  As he listed deserving Philly artists, he saved the best for last. “How about the biggest single in the history of the world,” Daryl Hall lectured the Madison Square Garden crowd, “Chubby Checker, why isn’t he in here?”

Ernest Evans was born in South Carolina but raised in Philadelphia. With Dick Clark and American Bandstand broadcasting from the city, the Philly music scene was red-hot when Evans took on the name Chubby Checker in the 1950’s. Fabian, Bobby Rydell and Frankie Avalon are just a few of the Philly stars that dominated the music charts. But in 1960, Chubby Checker outshined them all with the release of “The Twist.”

Checker has many other hit songs, but “The Twist” was and still is his signature. It was more than a song, it was a social phenomena.  Chubby Checker invited America to the dance floor.  Not everyone can dance, but everyone can do The Twist.  To this day, the song is a staple at weddings and it is one of the few times the dance floor is packed.

More song inspired more songs than any other in history.  “Twisting the Night Away,” “Twist and Shout” and “The Peppermint Twist” are but a handful of #1 hits for other artists inspired by Chubby Checker.

With such influence, timelessness, impact and success, how on earth can the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame slight Chubby Checker year after year.  It is a baffling question.  But 2015 will not be Checker’s year, as the Hall of Fame has snubbed him once again. In 2013, the great Donna Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously.  The honor was tarnished by the Hall’s stubbornness.

It needs to honor Chubby Checker while he is still alive.

Chubby Checker’s perennial smile faded when I brought up the Donna Summer induction.  “I’ll tell you this,” he said seriously, “if they wait until I am too old.  I’m going to turn them down.  If I’m inducted, I want to still be able to do the Twist.”

Larry Mendte is a veteran newsman who has worked on Televison and Radio in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Diego.