Hank Ballard

Died March 2nd, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hank Ballard, the singer and songwriter whose hit "The Twist" ushered a nationwide dance craze in the 1960s, has died. Ballard, who was suffering from throat cancer, died Sunday at his home, friends said. Friend and caretaker Anna Ayala said Ballard's birth records indicate he was born in 1927, but biographical information lists his birthdate as 1936.

"He was just a very good man and loved by so many people," Ayala said.

In 1958, Ballard wrote and recorded "The Twist," but it was only released on the "B" side of a record. One year later, Chubby Checker debuted his own version of "The Twist" on Dick Clark's Philadelphia television show.

It soon topped the charts and launched a dance craze that prompted the creation of other Twist songs, including "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Brothers and "Twistin' the Night Away" by Sam Cooke.

Ballard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

In a 1996 interview, he described music as his medicine. "If you're looking for youth, you're looking for longevity, just take a dose of rock 'n' roll," Ballard said. "It keeps you going. Just like the caffeine in your coffee. Rock 'n' roll is good for the soul, for the well being, for the psyche, for your everything. I love it. I can't even picture being without rock 'n' roll."

Picked by Master Dark.