Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“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 and Freddy King backed by Sonny Thompson‘s “Orchestra” and issued on King subsidiary label, Federal:

Do the President Twist

Lulu Reed & Freddy King (1962)

“John, Jackie and the baby, too – if they can do it, so can you,” sing Lula and Freddy.  Could this be the first depiction of a US President embracing the “new” rock music?

Catalogers, beware

Luluvs.Lula” Reed

“Do The President Twist” would also serve as the lead-off track for the Freddy King/Lula Reed/Sonny Thompson album with the playful title, Boy-Girl-Boy (reissued in Japan in 1988).  Even though the King recording session notes compiled by Michel Ruppli (with assistance from Bill Daniels) do not list the musicians who recorded “Do The President Twist” at King Studios in February of 1962, it is widely assumed that Philip Paul played on this session, which also produced “(Let Your LoveWatch Over Me“; “You Can’t Hide“; “Your Love Keeps a-Working on Me“; “What About Love” and “It’s Easy, Child.

King 777

*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).


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