Joey Dee and the Starliters will be performing today in Largo Central Park during the city's Fourth of July Celebration. It was 50 years ago this summer that the dance craze known as the Twist was born. Along with the annual fireworks extravaganza, revellers will be invited to join in Largo's attempt to break the Guinness world record for largest number of people twisting in one place. Dee, who has lived in Clearwater since 1989, is widely known for the 1961 song Peppermint Twist, which hit No. 1 status on U.S. charts in early 1962. We caught up with Dee by phone while he was on tour in New Jersey last week.
1 Out of everyone you've known to dance the Twist, who do you think does the Twist the best? I think I do. I'm still dancing and jumping as high as I did in 1961.
2 Is there a particular lady who had a Twist you admired? I remember watching Jo Ann Campbell do it when we did the movie, Hey Let's Twist. She was my co-star, and she was fantastic.
3 Are you friendly with Chubby Checker? I heard there was a bit of a competition between you two, because of the songs. Back in the day, we were rivals. But as time has gone by, we've grown to tolerate each other. No seriously, we're friends. We'll be working together in October at the Wildwoods Convention Center in New Jersey. Because of the Twist anniversary, they're bringing in those connected with the dance.
4 Can you describe the difference between Chubby Checker's Twist and Joey Dee's Peppermint Twist? The difference, of course, is in the beat. His is a straight four beat. A Peppermint Twist is more of a rhythm and blues beat. And when you dance to mine, you have your hand in the air, and you do a little pop at the end. I feel it has a little more pizzazz.
5 What do you hope to see when you look out at the crowd on the Fourth of July from the stage? Trying to break the record is quite an undertaking, but it can be done. I hope to see thousands of people Twisting together.