“Do the President Twist”: First Depiction of a Rockin’ President?

The song that launched a national dance craze – The Twist – cast an unbelievably long shadow.  Even though Hank Ballard’s original version of the song was released on King in 1959, groups were putting out twist songs well into 1962.*   I was reminded of this fact recently when listening to Etta James’ version of “Fools Rush In” from 1962, and I noticed that Etta playfully sings at the song’s conclusion, “Open up your heart and let this fool twist on in,” instead of the original lyric “…let this fool rush in.”

One of my favorite Twist songs was recorded in Cincinnati in February 1962 by Lula Reed & Freddy King with Sonny Thompson’s Orchestra and issued on King subidiary, Federal – “Do the President Twist”:

“John, Jackie and the baby, too – if they can do it, so can you,” sing Lula & Freddy.             Is this the first depiction of a US President embracing the “new” rock music?Do the President Twist - Lula Reed, Freddy King & Sonny Thompson

*Historical note:   “The Twist” enjoys the distinction of being the only single to reach #1 in two different chart runs –  September 19, 1960 (for one week) and then again mysteriously on January 13, 1962 (for two weeks).