The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 March 2003

Finger poppin' time

A moment of noise, if you please — silence wasn't his thing — for R&B legend Hank Ballard, who died yesterday in Los Angeles.

Ballard's Midnighters (originally the Royals, but confusion with the "5" Royales dictated a name change) scored many R&B hits, starting with the salacious "Work With Me Annie" in 1954. But he's perhaps best remembered for a throwaway B side, the flip of 1959's "Teardrops on Your Letter", a bouncy little number called "The Twist", which in a soundalike version by Chubby Checker — Ballard once said when he first heard Checker's record on the radio in 1960, he thought it was his own — became the only record to hit #1, drop off the charts completely, and then hit #1 again the next year, in the midst of dozens of Twist records.

Depending on whom you believe, Ballard was 66, or maybe he was 75. All together now:

There's a thrill
Up on the hill
Let's go, let's go, let's go

Posted at 7:08 PM to Tongue and Groove