The Twist (2:35)

Cover of Spider-Man 3: Music From And Inspired By

From Spider-Man 3: Music From And Inspired By and 404 other releases

“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).

In 1988, “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.

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