Nov. 18, 1927
Born John Henry Kendricks on this day in Detroit, Michigan, Hank Ballard grew up in Bessemer and sang in church. Ballard moved back to Detroit and formed a doowop group, working at Ford Motor Company during the day and singing with the group at night. Soon after, Ballard joined The Royals, which changed its name to The Midnighters to avoid confusion with The “5” Royales. The Midnighters first major hit was “Work With Me, Annie” in 1954, which topped the R&B charts for seven weeks and began a string of hits on the R&B charts. In 1959, Ballard’s song “The Twist” was released as the B-side of “Teardrops on Your Letter,” which climbed to No. 4 on the R&B charts. A year later Chubby Checker covered “The Twist” and had a No. 1 hit on the pop charts. Ballard was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. He died March 2, 2003.
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