Written and first recorded (as “Hey Lolly Lolly”) by Woody Guthrie (1944, released 1952).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (as “Hey Li-Lee”, 1954), The Vipers Skiffle Group (sa “Hey Liley Liley Lo”, 1957), The Limeliters (as “Hey Li Lee Li Lee”, 1961).
Hit version by Chubby Checker (US #12/R&B #4 1963).
From the wiki: “Woody Guthrie recorded a version of “Hey Lolly Lolly” in 1944 which was not released until 1952. Pete Seeger recorded ‘Hey Li-Lee’ in 1954 but the song did not first gain wide familiarity until The Limeliters recorded their variation, ‘Hey Li Lee Li Lee’, during the early ’60s Folk music revival. Chubby Checker further adapted the song, recording ‘Hey Lolly Lolly’ in 1963 and going Top 20 with it on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 5 US R&B charts.”
Co-written and first recorded by Don Covay & the Goodtimers (1960).
Hit version by Chubby Checker (US #1/R&B #1 1960).
From the wiki: “‘Pony Time’ was written by Don Covay and John Berry (a member of Covay’s earlier vocal group, the Rainbows), and originally recorded in 1960 by Covay with his group the Goodtimers. The song achieved greater success later that same year when it was recorded by Chubby Checker the following year, becoming his second US #1 (after his 1960 single ‘The Twist.’). It also topped the US R&B chart. ‘Pony Time’ does bear a resemblance to ‘The Twist‘, first recorded in 1959 by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.”
Written and first recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters (early 1958, released 1993)
First released by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters (B-side US #28/R&B #16 November 1958 |A-side re-release US #28/R&B #6 1960).
Based on “Is Your Love For Real” by The Midnighters (1957).
Other hit version by Chubby Checker (US #1/R&B #2/UK #44/AUS #20 1960 |US #1/R&B #4/UK #14/AUS #3 1962).
From the wiki: “Songs about doing ‘the twist’ date back to nineteenth-century minstrelsy, including ‘Grape Vine Twist’ from around 1844. In 1938 Jelly Roll Morton, in ‘Winin’ Boy Blues’, sang, ‘Mama, mama, look at sis, she’s out on the levee doing the double twist’ – a reference to both sex and dancing in those days.
“In 1957, the Midnighters’ Hank Ballard and Cal Green had already had written a song together called ‘Is Your Love for Real’, which they released with no apparent chart success. So, they used ‘Is Your Love for Real’ as the template for a new song by simply putting new words to the older melody and retitling it ‘The Twist’. (‘The Twist’ would, in turn, serve as the template for the Midnighters’ first Top-10 pop hit, ‘Finger Poppin’ Time’ [#7, 1962].)
“The Midnighters first recorded ‘The Twist’ in a rather loose arrangement in a Florida studio for Vee-Jay Records in early 1958 (which went unreleased until 1993). A second recording session in November, 1958 in Cincinnati, OH resulted in a side released in early 1959 by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters as the B-side to ‘Teardrops on Your Letter’, this version proved to be only a moderate 1960 hit, peaking at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. But, ‘The Twist’, the song, and ‘The Twist’, the dance, would be forever popularized in 1960 when covered by Chubby Checker, becoming an international hit in September 1960. (A 1960 re-issue of the Midnighters’ original, released in the wake of Checker’s chart-topping version, peaked again at #28.)
First recorded by Paul Williams & His Hucklebuckers (R&B #1 1949).
Other hit versions by Frank Sinatra (US #10 1949), Chubby Checker (US #14 1960), Coast to Coast (UK#3 1983).
From the wiki: “In his book, Honkers and Shouters, Arnold Shaw credits Paul Williams as one of the first to employ the honking tenor sax solo that became the hallmark of R&B and Rock ‘n Roll in the 1950s and early 1960s. Williams formed his own band in 1947 after first performing with Clarence Dorsey and King Porter. He became best known for his 1949 hit, ‘The Hucklebuck’, a twelve-bar blues that also spawned a dance craze. The single went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart.
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