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BARRY LEVINE: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame misses the beat once again

OPINION: The Hall's selection needs a Chubby-style twist

Barry Levine

Barry Levine

Hey, Carlton Fletcher, Southwest Georgia’s renowned music authority.

Hey, FLET-CHER?

Hey, F-L-E-T C-H-E-R?

Are you listening?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation nominating committee did it again!

The group recently announced the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction nominees, and here’s the big shock, Fletch. Chubby Checker did not get nominated.

Again!

The singer, who had the entire world twisting in 1960, still has not received a nomination to the Hall of Fame.

Why?

He certainly meets the Hall of Fame Foundation’s criteria.

One of the foundation’s responsibilities is to recognize the contributions of those who have had significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock ‘n’ roll by inducting those in the Hall of Fame.

Chubby Checker’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame is about as egregious as keeping Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb from the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan from the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Jim Brown and Joe Montana from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voter, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that Chubby Checker has not received support because he is considered a “one-hit wonder.”

That evaluation of Checker’s career is totally ludicrous.

In terms of performance on the Billboard charts, “The Twist” by Checker is the most successful single of all time.

It climbed to No.1 in September 1960 and January 1962. It is the only song to reach No. 1 in two distinctly different start runs. It was on the Billboard Hot 100 for a total of 39 weeks, a record which has since been eclipsed by UB40. The British group surpassed Checker’s mark with “Red Red Wine” in 1988.

Still performing today, the 72-year-old Checker had his first Top 40 hit in 1959 when he did imitations of Fats Domino, the Chipmunks, drummer Cozy Cole and Elvis Presley as part of a parody of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in a song called “The Class.”

Checker’s career skyrocketed in 1960 when “The Twist,” which was originally recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters in 1959, jumped to No. 1.

As the twist faded from the teen dance scene and was replaced by the slop, mashed potato and fly, Checker started recording other dance songs.

They include:

“The Hucklebuck,” No. 14 in 1960;

“Pony Time,” No. 1 in 1961;

“Mess Around,” No. 8 in 1961:

“Let’s Twist Again,” No. 8 in 1961;

“The Fly,” No. 7 in 1961;

“Slow Twistin’,” No. 3 in 1962.

When the twist became no longer “cool” among teenagers, it started generating interest among adults.

When a New York society columnist wrote that a visiting member of a royal family was seen doing the twist at the Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan, the dance immediately became a worldwide sensation.

Because of the dance’s new acceptance, Checker was invited to perform “The Twist” on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in October 1961. Because of the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his appearance, Parkway Records re-released the song. This time, it was adults and not teens buying it.

“The Twist” returned to the Billboard Hot 100 on Nov. 13, 1961 and returned to No.1 in January 1962.

Even after interest in the twist waned among adults, Checker kept charting hit after hit.

Besides “Slow Twistin’,” recorded with labelmate Dee Dee Sharp in 1962, he scored later that year with “Dancin’ Party,” which reached No. 12, “Limbo Rock,” which rose to No. 2, and “The Hitchhiker,” which peaked at No. 10.

Checker continued placing hits in the Top 40 in 1963 when “Let’s Limbo Some More” landed at No. 20, “Twenty Miles” No. 15, “Birdland” No. 12, “Twist It Up” No. 25 and “Laddy Lo” No. 12.

He had three more chart hits in 1964: “Hooka Tooka,” which climbed to No. 17, “Hey, Bobba Noodle” to No. 23, and “Lazy Elsie Molly” to No. 40.

Checker had his final Top 40 hit as a solo artist in 1965 when “Let’s Do the Freddie” peaked at No. 40.

During Checker’s glittering career, he had 23 top 40 hits, seven of which reached the Top 10. Three of the songs — “The Twist” twice and “Pony Time” — reached No. 1.

If that isn’t a sufficient enough body of work to earn a spot in the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame, there shouldn’t be a Hall of Fame.

Just compare Checker’s accomplishments with too many other performers who have been enshrined with appreciably lesser accomplishments.

He put rock ‘n’ roll on the world map during the 1960s with “The Twist.”

That alone meets the foundation’s criteria for admittance.

Hey, nominating committee, legitimize the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by placing Checker on the performers’ ballot. Then let the 600 voters determine if Chubby Checker should be enshrined.

Barry Levine is an entertainment writer for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at dot0001@yahoo.com.