Sad to hear of the passing yesterday of TV legend Dick Clark of a massive heart attack.  Most people remember him as the annual host of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve until he suffered a stroke in 2004, but I’ll never forget the way he transformed music from something you just listened to, to something you could also watch when he hosted “American Bandstand” for over 20 years.

Originally just a local Philadelphia TV show, after Clark was hired as host in 1956, “American Bandstand” became a national hit on the ABC network.  And between 1957 and 1987 it became the longest running daytime series on network television.  Following its network run, it went into syndication.  “American Bandstand” has
often been called the MTV of the 50’s & 60’s.

Youtube videos of old “American Bandstand” shows bring back so many great memories for me.  All the British Invasion groups they featured, the Motown stars, Bubblegum groups, some of biggest teen idols of the day like Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Pat Boone and Fabian.

And the teenagers on the show did all the latest dances – the Slop, the Hand Jive, the Twist.  There was even a 60’s group that introduced their own dance – Freddie and the Dreamers taught the kids how to do the Freddie.

There’s a local connection to American Bandstand.  During the 1950’s and 60’s Buffalo radio was one of the nation’s pacesetters.  A guy by the name of Bob Wells who also did some TV work in Buffalo, had a radio show on WEBR where he invited teens to be a part of the show and dance while he played some of the current hits.
His show called “Hi-Teen” became the basis for “American Bandstand”.

I came across a Youtube video of American Bandstand's 30th anniversary celebration in 1982 and it shows what a great host Dick Clark was.  Even if you can watch only a few minutes, you'll get the idea of how special he was.


SOURCE: Buffalo Broadcasters Association