Chubby Checker kicked off Cruisin’ The Coast on Saturday with a show at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
Checker’s high-energy performance was the perfect way to jump-start a week-long tribute to classic cars and rock ’n’ roll. The only thing that could have made the night better for cruisers would have been if the cast of “American Graffiti” joined Checker on stage to do “The Twist.”
Although early on I had no idea what to expect from Checker’s show, as the week moved along, I was pretty excited about seeing the man who invented “The Twist.” Checker is an integral part of the early days of rock ’n’ roll. He deserves his place in history right along with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Little Richard.
Checker had told me how much he loves performing — it’s what keeps him alive. He also made some pretty bold statements about his show.
“We show up, we burn it up, we level the place and then we go home — we’re going to come in and burn it down and then we are going to go home,” Checker told me.
Again, that’s a bold statement.
My motto is this when it comes to athletes, musicians, etc.: don’t sing it, bring it.
Well, Checker brought it and he sang it.
Backed by a tight five-piece band that embodied the rebellious early spirit of rock ’n’ roll, Checker ripped through 17 or so songs like a man with everything, yet nothing to prove. Sure, he gave the world “The Twist,” but Checker excels on the stage. If you haven’t seen him live, do so as soon as possible.
Checker’s voice sounded as good as it did 50 years ago. He gave the audience everything they wanted from his collection of hits, plus some rock n roll gold like “Blueberry Hill,” Rock Around the Clock” and “Peggy Sue.”
When introducing “The Hucklebuck,” Checker said, “This song was banned when it first came out because it was too nasty — well, everything in the world is nasty these days.”
And in a nasty world, thank God that Chubby Checker is still around to make it a better place.