Ernest Evans was born in Spring Gulley, and as a child was raised in the projects of South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived with his parents and two brothers.
By the age of eight Evans had formed a street corner harmony group and, by the time he entered high school, learned to play the piano as well as entertain his classmates by performing vocal impressions of popular entertainers of the day, such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Fats Domino.
One of his classmates and friends at South Philadelphia High School was Fabiano Forte, who would become a popular singer of the late 1950s & early 1960s as Fabian.
After school, Evans would entertain customers at his various jobs, including Fresh Farm Poultry on 9th Street and at the Produce Market, with songs and jokes, and it was his boss at the Produce Market, Tony A., who gave Evans the nickname "Chubby". The storeowner of Fresh Farm Poultry, Henry Colt, was so impressed by Ernest's performances for the customers that he, with his colleague & friend Karl Mann, who worked as a song-writer for Cameo-Parkway Records,arranged for young Chubby to do a private recording for American Bandstand host Dick Clark. It was at this recording session that Evans got his stage name from Clark's wife, who asked Evans what his name was. "Well", he replied, "my friends call me 'Chubby'". As he had just completed a Fats Domino impression, she smiled and said, "As in Checker?" That little play on words ('chubby' meaning 'fat', and 'checkers', like 'dominos', being a game) got an instant laugh and stuck, and from then on, Evans would use the name "Chubby Checker".