Ernest Evans was born on October 3, 1941 in Spring Gulley, South Carolina and later moved with his family to Philadelphia. He was given the nickname 'Chubby' when working at a produce market but soon tired of this work and moved on to a chicken store which encouraged its employees to sing to entertain customers. The owner of the store was friends with Kal Mann, a songwriter associated with a recording studio in the Philadelphia area. He invited Chubby to sing on a Christmas recording of Jingle Bells and the wife of the producer jokingly compared him with Fats Domino, saying he should call himself Chubby Checker. He did - and the name stuck.
In 1958 a little-known band called Hank Ballard and the Midnighters had invented a dance routine to perform with their act. Hank composed a song to complement the gyrations and 'The Twist' was born. Released on the 'B' side of another song it soon became popular with local teenagers and the band were asked to appear on a radio show. They failed to turn up and, when another group, Danny and the Juniors, also failed to impress with their recording, Chubby was asked to step in and sing over a pre-recorded instrumental track instead. Originally also released on the 'B' side, it didn't do too well but Chubby was determined and set off on a promotional tour to demonstrate the song and the dance. This ploy worked and The Twist became a number one sensation in 1960 - and Chubby Checker an international star.