Song Stories

“The Twist”

Chubby Checker | 1960

The ultimate dance craze song, "The Twist" went to the top of the charts in 1960 and again at the beginning of 1962 when it caught on with the socialites, becoming the only song to top the charts twice in separate runs. The song was written and first performed by Hank Ballard, but Chubby Checker ended up playing it on American Bandstand because Ballard was unavailable. The rest, they say, is history. "Going crazy is what I was looking for – where the music is so good you lose control," Checker said. "'The Twist' did that."

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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