(MCT) -- There's a new twist on Longview's search for an artist to headline this year's Fireworks and Freedom Celebration.
Chubby Checker, best known for popularizing the twist-style dance with his cover of Hank Ballard's R&B hit "The Twist," has offered to play Longview's July 4 celebration, according to an email sent from his publicist Gary Lefkowith to Assistant to the City Manager Shawn Hara.
"We'd welcome the opportunity to have Chubby Checker play your July 4 Festival," Lefkowith wrote in the email sent Wednesday morning. "As I mentioned on the phone, Chubby has a New Single out, 'Changes,' that's #45 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and is being played on Sirius XM."
Lefkowith said Checker, born Ernest Evans, has offered to charge his usual fee, but would cut his price by the $16,250 the city previously paid controversial rocker Ted Nugent to end negotiations for the festival.
The city manager's office, in consensus with Longview Mayor Jay Dean, scuttled those negotiations after it became known in mid-February that Nugent was a frontrunner being talked to by a promoter and a small group of city staff.
The timing of the decision coincides with controversy on the Texas gubernatorial campaign trail after Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott came under fire for campaigning with Nugent.
About that time, a national hullabaloo was raised over comments Nugent made in January about the president. As the fracas continued, previous comments about immigrants and some of his song lyrics, seemingly suggesting child molestation, also were raised.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry, both potential candidates for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, disavowed Nugent’s slur of President Obama, whom he called a “subhuman mongrel.”
Abbott, while saying he’s moved beyond the controversy, has declined to back away from his decision to campaign with the rocker, known as the Motor City Madman.
The city of Longview has not yet announced who will play the annual festival.