Chubby Checker is forever immortalized in North Las Vegas on Checker Way.
The street is appropriately a few blocks away from Twist Circle in a neighborhood near the corner of North Decatur Boulevard and West Washburn Road.
According to Mark Hall-Patton’s “Asphalt Memories: Origins of Some of the Street Names of Clark County,” the rock and roll singer best known for creating the Twist dance craze in the 1960s, had his moves popularized in and around the neighborhood — making him the namesake for the road.
Checker played at the Sands in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. In a 1983 interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Checker describes knowing there’s no escaping the Twist.
“My music is the kind you don’t have to ‘get into,’ ” he said. “It’s just a good time. You know how I’ve stayed in business all these years without a record? Because my music is a good time; people keep coming back again and again. I can really look back over the years and say I’ve had a good time. I can’t complain.”
In 2005, Checker played the First Street stage during Helldorado Days. That was when Las Vegas turned 100.
The former grocery store clerk was born Ernest Evans in South Carolina and raised in Philadelphia. Mrs. Dick Clark thought Evans looked like a chubby Fats Domino, and the stage name Chubby Checker was born. His grocery store boss gave him the nickname “Chubby,” according to his website chubbychecker.com.
When Evans was young , his mother took him to see child piano prodigy Sugar Child Robinson and country singer Ernest Tubb. After seeing those two in concert, he wanted to enter show business.
According to his website, the Twist was a No. 1 song and introduced the concept of “dancing apart to the beat.” The Twist name was incorporated into new songs including “Peppermint Twist,” “Twist and Shout,” and “Twistin’ the Night Away.” These inspired the dances such as “The Jerk,” “The Boogaloo” and “The Shake.”
“When I created danceable rock ‘n’ roll, I never thought that I had created such a way of life,” Checker told the Review-Journal. “It changed music. People started dancing to music, and they’re still dancing. It’s some kind of wonderful.”
Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 383-0492.Naming Las Vegas
The history behind the naming of various streets, parks, schools, public facilities and other landmarks in the Las Vegas Valley will continue to be explored in a series of feature stories appearing in View editions published on the first Tuesday of every month.
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