|Single by Chubby Checker|
|from the album Limbo Party|
|B-side||"Popeye the Hitchhiker"|
|Songwriter(s)||Jon Sheldon, Billy Strange|
|Chubby Checker singles chronology|
"Limbo Rock" is a popular song about limbo dancing written by Kal Mann (under the pseudonym Jon Sheldon) and Billy Strange. An instrumental version was first recorded by The Champs in 1961. The first vocal version was recorded in 1962 by Chubby Checker (on Parkway Records): it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks (held out by "Telstar" by The Tornados) and at number one on the Cash Box charts. The Chubby Checker recording also made it to number three on the R&B charts.
Checker then released a sequel, "Let's Limbo Some More", in 1963, which peaked at #20 in the Billboard chart.
In 1960 session guitarist Billy Strange and a friend were listening to a song on the radio. Strange sneered that he could write a better song in five minutes. His friend produced a one hundred dollar bill from his wallet and bet him he could not. Strange pulled out a note pad coming up with the tune in under five minutes with the only lyrics being "What a monotonous melody" for every line, and pocketed the money. Whilst later doing a recording session for Ricky Nelson, Strange was asked if he had a song for recording. As a joke he sang the "What a monotonous melody" song. A few months later Chubby Checker's manager Kal Mann asked Strange if he could record the song with different lyrics that became "Limbo Rock".
The song was covered by a long list of artists including Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, The Ventures, Fozzie Bear (on Muppet Beach Party), Sebastian the crab, Chet Atkins and Hank Snow (on their joint album C.B. Atkins & C.E. Snow by Special Request), The Knickerbockers, Klaus Wunderlich, The Routers, Arthur Lyman, Skiantos, Jaume Sisa and the Dominican musician Félix del Rosario. Because the song is literally about limbo, versions of the song by lesser-known cover bands appear on various Latin music, Calypso music and reggae compilation records. It also appears on a number of children's music albums.
In the Perfect Strangers 1988 episode "Just Desserts", the song Balki sings when preparing and making "Bibby Babkas", while with completely different lyrics, is sung to the same melody as "Limbo Rock".
Chubby Checker released a remix of the song in 2003, titled "Limbo Rock (Remixes)," produced Mike Rogers and Gary Lefkowith and featuring Inner Circle. Phil Sweetland, writing for the New York Times stated that at "age 62 and 43 years after 'The Twist,' Chubby Checker has once again comes up with a top-five single: a hip-hop-flavored version of another of his 1960's hits, 'Limbo Rock.'" Sweetland also states that "the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard listed the song at No. 3 on its hot dance singles sales chart, making it Mr. Checker's first top-five hit since the original 'Limbo Rock' in 1962."
The Chubby Checker 1962 recording was featured in the 1988 film Hairspray.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 114.
- Pat Browne (2001), The guide to United States popular culture, p. 154, ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2
- Derrer, Jan (January 22, 2008). "The Billy Strange Story of Chubby Checker Hit Song 'Limbo Rock'". Lost & Sound. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- Leigh, Spencer (March 3, 2012). "Billy Strange: Guitarist with the Wrecking Crew". The Independent. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- Sweetland, Phil (December 25, 2003). "Arts Briefing: Highlights; Chubby redux via remix". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2018.