Press Release: ‘The Twist’, First Produced and Recorded by Henry Stone, Just Named Billboard Hot 100 Era Number 1 Song of all Time
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‘The Twist’, First Produced and Recorded by Henry Stone, Just Named Billboard Hot 100 Era Number 1 Song of all Time
SEPTEMBER 12, 2008, MIAMI, FL: From Yahoo News: How is this for a twist? Of all the No.1 songs in the 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” ranks as the most popular single. Henry Stone, producer of 25 Billboard No. 1 Hits, including KC & The Sunshine Band, shares his inside track of the behind the scenes version of what was going on when he was the first to record and produce “The Twist”, which was originally written and recorded by Hank Ballard two years earlier than the re-release made famous by Chubby Checker. The version that Henry Stone paid for and recorded at the North Miami Armory studio was the original master sent to Abner at Vee Jay Records. This was in 1957 and in 1960 it was covered and released by Chubby Checker on the Cameo Parkway label.
According to Stone, the story goes like this: “Ballard came into my office here in Miami one day and said to me, ‘Henry, my contract with King Records is over.’ Ballard implied to me that he was shopping for a new record label. We discussed Chicago’s Chess or Vee Jay Record labels and he decided on Vee Jay Records. I called Ewart Abner at Vee Jay, who was definitely interested and he asked me if Ballard’s contract with King Records was over? I told him I was 100% positive that the contract had expired and he was getting ready to sign a contract with somebody.
“Abner said he would sign him up under one condition, that I record him in Miami, while he was down here. There was no recording studio in Miami at the time. The famous Criteria studio had not opened at the time but Mac Emmermen had portable recording equipment, so we decided to take Ballard into the North Miami Armory and we recorded him there for Vee Jay.
“During the recording session at the Armory, while going over some material, Ballard played for me a very slow Bluesy tempo song that he called ‘The Twist’. I remember Ballard’s guitar player, Cal Green, tuning up his guitar for ‘The Twist’ in a much faster danceable tempo then the slower Bluesy version. I turned to Ballard and said, ‘Why don’t we take this Blues version and merge it with Green’s up tempo guitar riff and turn ‘The Twist’ into a dance record?’
“We did just that and sent the tapes to Abner at Vee Jay in Chicago. Syd Nathan called Abner and said, ‘Ballard’s contract is up, but he owes me $300.00. If Ballard don’t pay me the $300.00 I’m going to sue you and Henry Stone and the whole world.’ That was Nathan’s forte.
“Abner called me and said, ‘What do you want to do?” I told Abner that I would send him the $300.00 to give to Nathan to shut him up, Abner agreed and said he would call Nathan with my proposal. Nathan turned the deal down, Abner decided rather than have a lawsuit he gave the tapes to Syd Nathan.
“After Syd Nathan received the more up tempo version of ‘The Twist’ from Abner, the version that I produced, Syd released ‘The Twist’ as the B-side to Ballard’s #4 national hit, ‘Teardrops On Your Letter.’ After lying dormant for nearly two years, Chubby Checker (real name Earnest Evans) covered the song and took it to #1 twice in 1960 – 1962! ‘The Twist’ would in time become the biggest teenage and adult dance craze in all of Rock history.”