Sunday night we were having a discussion around the dinner table about dance with my granddaughters and son, Max. Somehow the conversation went from “Dance” to “American Bandstand”, a TV show that I suspect many of you senior readers grew up with just like my wife and I. She said “I think I hear an AAS column percolating”; I hadn’t yet thought of it but I guess she was right; here we go.
We looked up “American Bandstand” right there on our smart phones and here are some of the interesting factoids that we learned.
- It aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989, and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as the program’s producer. The original host from 1952 to ’56 was fired after being arrested for DUI charges while the co-owners of the show were campaigning against DUI!
- Freddy Cannon holds the record for most appearances, at 110
- Production of the show moved from Philadelphia to the ABC Television Center in Los Angeles on February 8, 1964, which coincidentally was the day before the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
- The program was permanently shot in color starting on September 9, 1967. So for fifteen years it was black and white.
- Bandstand moved to cable on USA Network on April 8, 1989, with comedian David Hirsch taking over hosting duties. Clark remained as executive producer. The final show aired on October 7, 1989, thus ending the show’s 37-year run.
Due to his perennially youthful appearance and his largely teenaged audience of American Bandstand, Clark was often referred to as “America’s oldest teenager”.In his off-stage roles, Clark served as Chief Executive Officer of Dick Clark Productions. He also founded the American Bandstand Diner, a restaurant chain modeled after the Hard Rock Cafe.
The show was “close to home” to me in more ways than one. First, the studio where it originated on Market St in Philadelphia was right across the Delaware river from where I grew up, about ten miles due west. I was a young teen-ager in Jr. Hi when Dick Clark took over the show and then while I was in High school I was playing in a Rock n Roll band called “The Dunes”. Our first (and only) recording was “Lonely Sands” on the Madison label. Russell Faith recorded it for us in a studio very close to The American Bandstand studio. Russell was Percy Faith’s brother (think of the huge instrumental hit from the early 60’s called “Theme From A Summer Place”). If you’re interested, you can go to Youtube.com , type in “Lonely Sands” and listen to our record from 1960. I couldn’t believe it myself until my son showed me…..what a world we live in! Or just click here ….. https://youtu.be/ln73jakF_YI
While we never made an appearance on American Bandstand, we did have a lot of fun playing local dances, weddings and Frat parties. I even made some spending money to put gas in my 1952 Mercury!
I hope this little walk down memory lane triggers some warm teen age memories for you as it did for me on this Labor Day Weekend at the end of summer, 2019. (I was just listening to “Theme From A Summer Place” which took me back 60 years. Try it, works like magic.
Thanks for reading All About Seniors……see you next week!
Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org