Chubby Checker, whose song “The Twist” was one of the most popular dance records of all time, isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And that’s OK with him.
But the singer is peeved over what he considers a lack of radio airplay for the classic song and his new material. So he staged a protest — albeit good-natured — outside Monday’s induction festivities in midtown Manhattan.
“I’m not doing it to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at all,” he told The Associated Press in an interview. “I don’t get the airplay that one in my position deserves. ’Twist and Shout’ gets more airplay than ’The Twist,’ and that’s not right.”
Checker, 62, has been recording for decades, and some of other hits include “The Hucklebuck” and “Pony Time.” But his biggest hit was the 1960 song “The Twist,” which went to No. 1 in that year and again in 1962, sparking a dance craze across the nation. The song was so popular he even had a hit with its sequel, “Let’s Twist Again,” in 1961. (He also had a hit with “Slow Twistin”’ and in 1994 released a song called “Texas Twist”).
While the writer of the “The Twist,” Hank Ballard, has been inducted into hall, Checker hasn’t.
Seymour Stein, president of the Rock Hall’s New York chapter and member of the committee that helps select inductees, told the AP: “I think that Chubby is someone who will be considered. He has in certain years.”
However, Checker doesn’t think it’s necessary that he’s inducted.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” he said. “They have ’The Twist’ there already. They don’t need two in there.”
But he does want a photo of himself to welcome people into the Rock Hall’s museum in Cleveland, a request the Hall of Fame has not obliged.
“Who’s more fitting to do that than me?” he asks.
And he’s salty over what he perceives as a lack of respect at radio. He complains that “The Twist” doesn’t get the airplay it deserves on oldies stations, and that radio is ignoring his new material, even though his latest song, “Limbo Rock Remixes,” has risen to No. 16 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Singles Sales chart.
“Here’s an old eagle laying new eggs, and I thought that radio would be ecstatic,” he said. “But they’re not.”
“I’m not getting the airplay — no airplay, no payday,” said Checker, who waxes on and on about the popularity of “The Twist. He says even foods with the words “twist” and “checker” in them point to the song’s enduring popularity. (He also markets “Chubby Checker’s Beef Jerky” with flavors like “Sugar Twist Teriyaki.”)
Checker hopes that will change with his one-man protest outside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where the induction dinner was scheduled for Monday evening.
“I’m really appearing on the street for musical recognition,” Checker said.