A couple of years back I had the opportunity to play for Chubby Checker. Of course, I knew the name… A name like that hardly anyone would ever forget. I also know that he was associated with the hit song (and dance craze) “The Twist” years ago. For those of you who do not know Chubby personally, he is “highly opinionated.” He has “no problem at all” telling you what’s on his mind. Upon meeting him we had an abundance of time, so naturally, he had a lot to tell. First, Chubby isn’t interested at all in hearing anyone else play “The Twist” in tribute to him. He said that he performs that song 365 days a year (He works a whole lot based on that one hit) and the last thing he needs is to hear anyone else do it. As popular as that song was, Chubby does not get paid from it. That’s because he did not write the tune, nor was he the first to make it a popular big hit. Hank Ballard was the “originator” of the Twist song and he is the one who collects royalties from it. The problem with this was that the song and dance were huge successes and Hank was dead. Chubby was still alive and able to carry the torch of the song. Chubby feels that since he is keeping the song alive, he should be getting royalties from it. Unfortunately, the industry just doesn’t work that way. When we had to practice with him, Chubby immediately sat everyone down and actually “told each and every one of us”‘ how to play (and sing) our individual parts. I thought this was interesting, because if he didn’t write or play the song then how should he know what those parts actually are? I, personally, have perfect pitch. I “know exactly” how the parts should go from listening to the record. I could actually “tell him” how they are supposed to be played, but often when dealing with big name artists you sometimes have to go through some form of rituals in order to perform the show. Truth be told, if you can play at least 3 different notes on the bass guitar well enough, then you already have what’s needed to get by playing this song. It is not difficult at all. Chubby liked “control.” For rehearsal, we gave it to him, but when it came time for the actual show “none of us” played the song the way he directed us to, and we still kicked it out onstage. If you have never seen Chubby’s show, I would highly recommend it. For his age he can “still” move it onstage, and he has recorded “so many” different versions of the Twist that you have probably heard at least one. He also had a small hit song for yet another dance craze called “The Pony.” I liked this song. When meeting him, you notice that he is a nice guy, but I just couldn’t help but focus on how “perfect” his “hair” was. It was perfectly even, and almost didn’t seem real. Whatever the case, the legacy of the Twist now falls to him. Dick Clark is no longer around to promote him, but now he still has his concerts to keep him sufficiently employed for the rest of his healthy life. I know he wants more, but that is not always in the cards for us. I hope you enjoy today’s spotlight artist, and as always, I wish the very best to you that life has to offer.
Chubby Checker and Brett Jolly