#854: The Peppermint Twist by Danny Peppermint And The Jumping Jacks
Danny Lamego was born in New Jersey. He formed a band called The Jumping Jacks and they played the circuit at clubs in New Jersey. In 1956 they recorded a single with a tiny independent label in New York City called Andrea Records. It was a rockabilly-flavored tune titled “Hickory Dickory Dock.” However, the song was a commercial failure as the Andrea label, which released only two singles, had poor distribution. In 1957 Danny Lamego and his Jumping Jacks got another single called “The Other Man” released through Jubilee Records on the Josie Label. The song was reviewed in the April 20, 1957, issue of Billboard Magazine with this recommendation: “Presley like effort on a nicely backed rock and roller. Lament tells the story of a jilted lover who wishes he was the other man. Nice stuff here that could catch on.” The single, however, didn’t catch on and also missed the pop charts.
Danny Lamego and his band became regular performers at club in Manhattan called The Peppermint Lounge after a gig at the Wagon Wheel in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Another band called Joey Dee and the Starliters were finishing a two-month gig at Oliveri’s in Lodi, New Jersey. Early in 1961 Joey Dee and the Starliters were booked for one night at the Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan. They caused such a stir that Joey Dee and the Starliters ended up playing a regular gig at the Peppermint Lounge for over a year. During that time Joey Dee wrote a song called the “Peppermint Twist.” The song quickly climbed the pop charts.
The Peppermint Lounge was a popular discotheque located at 128 West 45th Street in New York City that was open from 1958 to 1965. It was the launchpad for the global Twist craze in the early 1960s, and was also where go-go dancing originated. In 1961 and into 1962 Joey Dee and the Starlighters were the house band. The Peppermint Lounge had a lengthy mahogany bar running along one side, lots of mirrors and a dance floor at the back, a capacity of just 178 people, and a gay clientele.
Early into the runaway success of Joey Dee and The Starliters’ “Peppermint Twist,” Danny Lamego changed his name to Danny Peppermint. With his band, The Jumping Jacks, Lamego wrote and recorded an entirely different tune which he also titled “The Peppermint Twist.” This was in the recording studios of Joe Carlton’s NY-based label.
“The Peppermint Twist” by Danny Peppermint and The Jumping Jacks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 4, 1961. It only had a four week chart run, falling off the Billboard Hot 100 after December 25th. Meanwhile, “The Peppermint Twist,” written by Joey Dee, spent ten weeks in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100, including three weeks at #1. Having a different song with the same song title wasn’t panning out for Danny Lamego, even though he had billed himself as Danny Peppermint. Peppermint and The Jumping Jacks climbed to #26 on the UK charts, #54 on the Billboard Hot 100, #2 in Syracuse, New York, and Louisville, Kentucky, and had its third best showing in North America in Vancouver, Canada, at #6.
“The Peppermint Twist” by Danny Peppermint is a song about a dance called The Peppermint Twist. The lyrics in the song describe the dance steps: Wiggle your head, move your arms, swing your hips… lift your leg, put it down, then you go ’round and ’round. In contrast, Joey Dee’s “Peppermint Twist” described their dance steps with these lyrics: (go) ’round and ’round, up and down, ‘Round and ’round, up and down, ‘Round and ’round and a up and down… one two three kick, one two three jump.” It seems the Danny Peppermint twist involved more specific instructions of what to do with your head, arms, hips and legs. In both cases the songs instructed dancers to go ’round and ’round. In the case of Danny Peppermint’s song, it mentions three neighborhoods in Manhattan where his dance is catching on: Harlem, (Greenwich) Village and Park Avenue.
Joey Dee and the Starliters song was a smash hit that was the #3 song for the year of 1962, according to Cashbox Magazine. Nonetheless, Danny Peppermint and The Jumping Jacks got some traction with their identically titled hit with the different lyrics. Their modest results encouraged the studio production of an album titled Danny Peppermint Twist. It was released in early 1962. The album contained their hit “The Peppermint Twist,” a cover of Hank Ballard and Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” Ray Anthony’s “Night Train Twist,” Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again,” the Thunderbirds “Thunderbird Twist,” Danny Peppermint and The Jumping Jacks follow up single “One More Time,” Joey Dee and The Starliters’ hit, “Peppermint Twist (Round & Round),” “Twistin’ Blues,” “Runaround Sue,” “Do That Twist.” The album, with eight out of ten tracks devoted to the twist fad, reflected the dance craze that dominated pop music from 1960-62. As Danny Peppermint Twist was climbing up the Billboard 200 album chart with modest results, Danny was almost killed while performing on stage at The Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas on January 24, 1962 when a live microphone short-circuited. He was rushed to the hospital and eventually recovered. In the meantime, numbers of concerts were cancelled while Peppermint recuperated. The loss of momentum didn’t help his career.
In the midst of the “Twist” craze, there were many songs recorded to cash in on the fad. Other twist tunes include “Kissin’ and Twistin’” (Fabian), “Twistin’ USA” (Danny and the Juniors), “Dear Lady Twist” (Gary “U.S.” Bonds), “Let Me Do My Twist” (Jo Ann Campbell), “Let’s Twist Again” (Chubby Checker), “Oliver Twist” (Rod McKuen), “Spanish Twist/Twist Español” and “Florida Twist” (all by Bill Haley & His Comets), “Tequila Twist” (The Champs), “Twist And Shout” (Isley Brothers and later The Beatles), “The Alvin Twist” (The Chipmunks), “Arkansas Twist” (Bobby Lee Trammell), “The Basie Twist” (Count Basie), “Bo’s Twist” (Bo Diddley), “Bristol Twistin’ Annie” (The Dovells), “Do You Know How To Twist?” (Hank Ballard and The Midnighters), “Everybody’s Twistin’” (Frank Sinatra), “Hey, Let’s Twist” (Joey Dee & the Starliters), “Jungle Twist” (The Fortune Tellers), “Kissin’ Twist (Kiss ‘n’ Twist)” (Connie Francis), “Percolator (Twist)” (Billy Joe & the Checkmates), “Slow Twist” (Chubby Checker and Dee Dee Sharp), “Soul Twist” (King Curtis) “Twist-Her” (Bill Black’s Combo), “Twistin’ All Night Long” (Danny and the Juniors), “Twistin’ Matilda (And The Channel)” (Jimmy Soul), “Twistin’ Postman” (The Marvelettes), “Twisting Bells” (Santo and Johnny), “Twisting The Night Away” (Sam Cooke), “Twist, Twist Senora” (Gary “U.S.” Bonds) and “Little Miss Twist” (The Beau Marks, Song #1187 on the Countdown). While in film there were several ‘Twist’ movies: Twist All Night, Twist Around the Clock, (Hey) Let’s Twist (featuring Joey Dee and The Starliters) and Don’t Knock the Twist (featuring Chubby Checker).
While Danny Peppermint was recovering from nearly being electrocuted, Carlton Records released two more singles by the band. “One More Time,” with backing by the Sid Bass orchestra & chorus, was about a guy whose dance partner has sore feet, but he keeps insisting on dancing at club. It peaked at #29 Vancouver and at #19 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The other single, “The Passing Parade,” backed with “Maybe Tomorrow” was a flop.
Danny Lamego still performs on occasion. He appeared at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey on April 14, 2013. And he performed at the Diamond Spring Italian Restaurant, Bar & Beach Club in Nutley, New Jersey, on September 30, 2017.
December 1, 2017
Joey Dee Biography, Joey Dee.com
Reviews of New Pop Records, Billboard Magazine, Los Angeles, California, April 20, 1957, p. 55
Michael McKenna, Danny Peppermint and the Jumping Jacks, YouTube.com, December 11, 2013
Danny Lamego and the Jumping Jacks Facebook.com page
Sonny Watson, Songs Using the Word TWIST in the Music Title Reference List, Streetswing.com
For more song reviews visit the Countdown.