Tampa's secret music history: Was 'The Twist' created here?
Loyal Soundcheck readers might recall that a few months ago, the city of Largo tried (and failed) to set the Guinness World Record for most people doing the dance move known as The Twist in one place. That's the attempt, above. Click here to read about it.
Over the weekend, we learned the record attempt was appropriate -- because The Twist might just have roots in Tampa Bay.
None other than Tampa musician Ronny Elliott argues that it did, in a song titled (naturally) The Twist Came From Tampa. He says Hank Ballard, who wrote the song, and his band the Midnighters were performing it long before Chubby Checker. John Capouya makes the case for The Twist's origins in Tampa in this fascinating story about Tampa Bay's musical history. An excerpt:
In the late 1950s the Midnighters might have been playing the Cotton Club, the Apollo Ballroom, the Little Savoy or any of the other venues along Central Avenue, then the Harlem of Tampa. The liner notes to the compilation album 1960: Still Rockin' tell the same story: Ballard wrote the song "after seeing kids do the pelvis-swiveling maneuver in Tampa, Florida.'' Some say Ballard saw those twisters — it's usually girls — out on the street, stepping out of his hotel. Maybe it was the Jackson House on Zack Street where Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald and so many other black musicians and Negro League baseball players stayed, when white hotels were off-limits.
If you love good stories about Tampa's musical history, you gotta read this one. Check it out.
Photo: Brian Blanco, tbt*.