Chubby Checker Twisted and Terrific at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
Back in the day my little sister was quite the socialite when my family moved to Orange County
for several strange years. As a third grader she was a stylish trendsetter with her RCA Victor portable record player and one single, sensational record that sped on the turntable at 45 r.p.m.s. That same disc became the center of action at THE social event of the year “a Twist Party.” Every kid in her class attended and gyrated to a sweaty fare thee well at Chubby Checker’s hit record of 1960. When parents came to collect the young hipsters they might have been ordered to get down to Wallach’s Music City
and put down the $1 to buy a copy. Since that day, Chubby Checker’s song has been played at least a trillion times on top-40 radio and in homes across the globe. Recently, a poll listed the humble tune as the favorite pop single of all-time. But that was 1960 and even with my math skills that makes it 51 years old and the singer something beyond those years. The question was “can Chubby still twist?”
Surprise number one was seeing the old twister looking so healthy and fit, even wearing skinny jeans believe it or not. Second surprise is that he can still sing, moreover, he can still rock pretty darn good. The show was so stimulating that many of the Boomers present felt compelled to get up on the stage and you guessed it, twist. Chubby Checker is a seasoned pro and he did what has always made him an enduring and endearing figure in pop: he sang one good song after another without as much as a heartbeat in between. They came in breathless succession: “Good Lovin’,” “Little Bitty Pretty One,” “Pony Time,” “Limbo Rock,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” all evergreens from pop history along with nice imitations of other masters like Fats Domino (“I’m Walking and Blueberry Hill) and even Elvis (“Stuck on You”). Yet the crowd came to twist and Chubby sang all of those songs including “Twisting U.S.A.
, “Let’s Twist Again,” “Twist It Up” and the very grand finale of “the Twist” that saw many come dangerously close to a chiropractic visit in the near future. This was a good natured and energetic show with “the Wildcats” accompanying with strong rhythm and blues backing, even with a couple of guitarists that probably never saw a turntable, let alone the one with the .45 spindle. Also there was a generous amount of audience participation including one woman of the Boomer vintage whose “hucklebuck” brought the house down. The audience loved it and gave the man two standing O’s at the conclusion.
The afternoon concert was opened by comedian Scott Wood who was very funny for just the right amount of time, working clean and clever throughout. Danny and the Juniors performed some pretty frisky Doo Wop as the curtain raising act including some real classics from the Rock and Roll vault like “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay,” “Pony Express,” and the classic “At the Hop” that made some memories stir in many a chair at the Center.