Hank Ballard was born John Henry Kendricks in Detroit on Nov. 18, 1927, though as a performer, he routinely shaved nine years off his age by claiming a 1936 birth date. His father, a truck driver, died when Ballard was 7. Ballard moved to Alabama to live with relatives, but returned as a teenager, having soaked up such disparate influences as church gospel music and Gene Autry, the singing cowboy. In 1953, Ballard was working on the Ford assembly line when he was invited to join a local doo-wop group, the Royals. The group would later change its name to the Midnighters. Ballard, not Chubby Checker, originated the seminal song The Twist along with a dance to go with it. But Chubby Checker had the backing of Dice Clark and the American Bandstand. Music connoisseurs however know the whole story so Ballard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. The Midnighters would also be inducted as a group later on.
For the full article, see Richard Bak, “Did You Know ‘The Twist’ Originated In Detroit? TWIST OF FATE: Detroit native Hank Ballard — not Chubby Checker — was the originator of the hit song and dance craze”, Hour Detroit, March 2013.