Chubby Checker was born Ernest Evans on Oct. 3, 1941, in Spring Gully, South Carolina. He is a rock n’ roll singer and dancer that is best known for popularizing many dance styles including “The Twist.” The song made it to the top of Billboard’s list of the most popular singles that have appeared in the Hot 100 since its debut, which was in 1960. Evans also brought the dance “Pony Time” to mainstream attention. Another factor that kept Evans in the news was his interracial marriage to Catharina Lodders in 1964. Evans was 22 and Lodders, who is a Dutch supermodel, was 21.
Evans got the name Chubby Checker when he was young. At the time he was working for a man named Tony A, who was the manager at Produce Market, and the first person to call Evans “Chubby.” Later, after getting recommended by a local songwriter, Chubby got to do a private recording for Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” After Evans finished doing a Fats Domino impression, Mrs. Clark asked for his name and he replied, “My friends call me Chubby.” To which she replied, “As in Checker?” The name has stuck ever since.
The singer and Lodders faced many difficulties living in America before interracial marriage was legalized everywhere in the United States in 1967. But, they have stuck together through it all and have three wonderful children: Bianca Johanna Evans, Ilka Evans and the musician Shan Egan. The couple also has seven grandchildren. Keep reading to learn more about Evans and Lodders and what they went through when they first got together.
“The Twist” wasn’t Evans’ first single but actually his second. His first was a song titled “The Class,” which featured him singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in the style of other popular performers. It became a small hit and led to him being signed by the record label Cameo-Parkway Records. Then in 1960, Evans struck gold with “The Twist.” After the song’s incredible success, the singer was asked if he could feel anything special about the song while he recorded it. He answered:
“I asked my mother to pray to God and ask Him to give me a hit song and she said that she had a dream that I would record a song that would belong to someone else and it would cover the entire world. When I was asked to sing ‘The Twist,’ I thought of what my mother had said. It’s the only special feeling I got while recording (it).”
The song has endured and is still well known to this day. Thinking back on what makes the song special, Evans said: “I think that people are addicted to simplicity. Keep it fun. Keep it stupid. Make sure it’s a little sexy. ‘The Twist’ has all of these elements.” The song is fun and lighthearted, and the point of it seems to be to just have a good time.
But despite the fact the song brought Evans an incredible amount of success, he’s also been critical of the fame it’s given him. He once said:
“… in a way, ‘The Twist’ really ruined my life. I was on my way to becoming a big nightclub performer, and ‘The Twist’ just wiped it out … It got so out of proportion. No one ever believes I have talent.”
Nevertheless, Evans followed up the success of “The Twist” with “Let’s Twist Again” one year later. Funnily enough, it’s this song that is his best known nowadays. On top of popularizing the Twist dance, Evans also helped to popularize the Pony dance, the Limbo and the Fly.
After he became the artist with the top song to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 since its debut, Evans was deeply honored. He shared:
“The next time this event takes place will be 2063 and another song will be nominated for 50 years being the #1 song of all time. Until that day arrives, ‘The Twist’ will be #1 for 105 years. ‘The Twist’ is the #1 song of the ‘60s. “The Twist” is the first platinum (record) ever given to any artist and the only song to be #1 twice in recording history. ‘The Twist’ changed the dance floor and it gave us ‘dancing apart to the beat,’ dancing together but not touching.”
But on top of his successful music career, Evans has also had a great personal life, specifically, his marriage with Lodders, who is a Dutch model who’s best known for being Miss Holland as well as the 1962 Miss World.
It sounds like the moment Evans saw Lodders, it was love at first sight. He told Philadelphia Magazine in 2015 that he met his wife, “in the Philippines in 1964. I saw a girl in a spotted bathing suit and I said, ‘I’m going to marry that woman.’ I didn’t even want to get married, but I couldn’t breathe. That woman was Catharina Lodders, Miss World 1962. She’s from the Netherlands, and we are still married today.”
Being an interracial couple, Evans and Lodders underwent some difficult times, but the singer added that when people found out he was marrying a white woman he said: “I didn’t care. Love ain’t got no color on it.” For him, the discussion would’ve been over, but there were still challenges for him and Lodders to overcome. One example is that they struggled to buy a house together because they were an interracial couple. This led Evans to take the opportunity to speak out against segregation and he said that he and his wife were not going to take it. They eventually found a home together in Philadelphia and they still live there to this day.
There were also rumors at the beginning of their relationship that Evans’ mother did not like Lodders because she is white, but the singer cleared up that assumption. He stressed that his family accepts Lodders and they are all very happy together.
It is also said that Evans and Lodders had a hard time finding a church where they could get married. Eventually, they were wed on April 12, 1964 at Temple Lutheran Church in Pennsauken, New Jersey. In an article published soon after their marriage in 1964, Evans spoke about his and his wife’s relationship. He said:
“We are merely two people with the same outlook on life.”
At the time he said “I love it” about being married, and it seems that hasn’t changed one bit. Evans and Lodders will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary in 2022 and their 60th milestone isn’t too far off.
Are you a fan of Chubby Checker? Did you know about his incredibly long and successful marriage to Catharina Lodders? Let us know and feel free to send this on to your loved ones.