Dick Clark on the "American Bandstand" TV show from Philadelphia, appears with teens around him as he reads mail. AP photo.
In 1963, American Bandstand, the popular Philadelphia-based TV dance show with Dick Clark, was still going strong, having been broadcast nationally since August 1957. The show was still seen mid-afternoons five days a week on the ABC television network. However, by 1963, Bandstand’s format had been shortened to 30 minutes per show. Not long thereafter, it began broadcasting taped shows rather than live broadcasts. Then, in September 1963, ABC moved Bandstand to Saturdays-only for one hour. But even with those changes, American Bandstand was still a place where many aspiring recording artists came for national exposure to help launch and/or advance their careers.
During 1963, there were more than 200 guest appearances on American Bandstand, with a number of artists making their national television debuts. Among some of the more notable performers appearing in 1963 with one or more hit songs were: Dionne Warwick, Paul & Paula, the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers, Peter Paul & Mary, Franki Valli & The Four Seasons, The Chiffons, Dion, Bobby Rydell, Skeeter Davis, Nancy Sinatra, Lesley Gore, Frankie Avalon, Gene Pitney, Dee Dee Sharp, Jan & Dean, Neil Sedaka, Darlene Love, Bobby Vinton, Link Wray, and others.
Cover sleeve for Dionne Warwick’s single, “Don't Make Me Over,” a hit song in 1962-63.
In January 1963, Dionne Warwick made what may have been her first national TV appearance on American Bandstand performing her hit song, “Don’t Make Me Over.” Released in October 1962, Warwick’s song had broken through nationally after receiving heavy radio play in San Francisco. It debuted on the Billboard chart December 8, 1962, rising to No.21 on that chart and to No. 5 on the R&B chart in January 1963. Warwick would follow this hit with others, including, “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” released in December 1963 and “Walk On By” in April 1964, a major international hit and million seller. Warwick went on to stardom and a long career of many hits, including those in collaboration with the writer/producer team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David during the 1962 -1971 period. Warwick, in fact, would put 56 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1962 and 1998, making her one of the that era’s leading female recording stars.
Frank Valli & The Four Seasons appeared twice on “American Bandstand” in 1963.
The Four Seasons, a quartet of singers from New Jersey with front man Franki Valli and his famous falsetto voice, appeared on American Bandstand at least twice in 1963. These “Jersey Boys” as they would come to be known years later from a famous stage production of that name, formed their group in 1960 as The Four Lovers. They eventually became The Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli on lead, Bob Gaudio keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on bass guitar and bass vocals. By the time they appeared on American Bandstand in 1963, they were already stars, having released their first album in 1962 with the No. 1 hit single “Sherry,” followed by their second No. 1 hit, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – both million-sellers. The Four Season appeared twice on Bandstand in 1963 – once in February and once in March – performing “Walk Like a Man” on both occasions. That song had been released in January 1963, but by March 2nd that year it had hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining there for three weeks and in the Top 40 for 12 weeks. The Four Seasons would go on to become one of the more popular musical groups of that era, and for years thereafter, selling some 175 million records worldwide.
Lesley Gore, shown at 1964 TAMI concert, appeared on Bandstand, May 1963, singing “It’s My Party.”
In late May 1963, a 17 year-old New Jersey teenager named Lesley Gore (Lesley Sue Goldstein) made her first appearance on American Bandstand singing her soon-to-be No.1 hit, “It’s My Party.” Just three months earlier, she was virtually unknown, performing locally at a Manhattan nightclub. That’s when Quincy Jones, a producer with Mercury Records, had caught her performance. By late February 1963, Jones came to Gore’s family home where she chose a demo song named “It’s My Party” to record for his label. Six weeks later, the recording was finished and sent to record stores.
But by June 1, 1963, after Gore made her national TV debut on Bandstand performing “It’s My Party,” the song shot to No. 1 on the pop charts, remaining there for two weeks. Gore would also have big subsequent follow-up hits, including “Judy’s Turn To Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me.” And years, later, she would also be nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1980 song, “Out Here On My Own” from the movie Fame.
The Righteous Brothers appeared on Bandstand in June 1963, but this was before their major stardom, coming at a time when they worked with a small recording company and then using the Moonglow label. Under that label, they produced two moderate hits: “Little Latin Lupe Lu” and “My Babe.” Their big hit – “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,” produced with studio wizard Phil Spector – would not come until 1965.
The Righteous Brothers duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. Click photo for separate story.
Among others appearing on Bandstand in June of 1963, were: Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Bobby Vinton, and Nancy Sinatra. James Brown also appeared that month performing his “Prisoner of Love,” as did Barbara Lewis with her hit, “Hello Stranger” and The Essex, with their hit,”Easier Said Than Done.” The Essex were an interesting group for that time, composed as they were of five U.S. Marines: Walter Vickers, Rodney Taylor, Billy Hill, Rudolph Johnson, and female Marine, Anita Humes. Stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, they cut a demo that landed them a contract with Roulette Records. Their hit song, “Easier Said Than Done,” was written by William Linton and Larry Huff, recorded by the group in 20 minutes, and released in May 1963. To the group’s surprise, it soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on July 6, sold more than one million copies, and garnered a gold disc from the recording industry. In September1963, The Essex had another hit, “A Walkin’ Miracle,” which rose to No.12 on the pop charts. The group appeared on American Bandstand June 7th, 1963.
Little Stevie Wonder appeared on Bandstand July 8, 1963. Click photo for separate story.
Stevie Wonder, a young blind teenager out of Detroit, made his network television debut on American Bandstand on July 8, 1963, with a performance of his harmonica-with-vocals song, “Fingertips, Part 2.” Wonder would go on to become a very popular music artist for decades, winning many Grammy awards, and continuing his success into the 21st century. Major Lance appeared on Bandstand in September 1963 with a popular dance song called “Monkey Time,” written by Curtis Mayfield, a song that had risen to No. 8 on the pop charts that August.
In the latter part of 1963, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand had a contingent of “girl group” recording artists on the show– i.e., groups that were girl-led, all-girl composed, or had a “girl group” sound. Among these were the Jaynetts, the Chiffons, Darlene Love, Dee Dee Sharp, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and the Ronettes. Clark also gave local groups continued opportunity on his show such as The Dreamlovers, a Philadelphia doo-wop group that once backed Chubby Checker on “The Twist” and other songs. This group appeared several times on Bandstand in 1963.
Dick Clark interviewing a young Little Richard on American Bandstand sometime in 1963 or 1964.
Although American Bandstand was still an important force in the music industry of that day, its power wasn’t what it had been in the 1950s. By September 1963, when the show went to its Saturday-only format, it wasn’t playing new recordings every day, which had been one of Bandstand’s big selling points in the music industry. With its reduced air time and song plugging, the show lost some of its influence in the industry. Still, through 1963 American Bandstand was the place where aspiring artists came to launch or enhance their music careers. Bandstand would have many years remaining as a TV dance show, extending into the 1980s.
The 1963 season, in any case, was the last year that American Bandstand would be broadcast from Philadelphia. In early 1963, the live broadcasts were replaced by previously-taped shows, though still running five days a week. In August, Bandstand ended its weekday broadcasts and instead, went to a Saturdays-only show for one hour, ending its years in Philadelphia with its final broadcasts in December 1963. By February 1964, the show resumed broadcasting from Los Angeles, California, near Hollywood. Clark by then had also been serving as a game show host, a part of his career that would grow in the years ahead. At the time of Bandstand’s move west, Dick Clark was still a young man at age 34.
The Jaynetts appeared on Bandstand in 1963 with their song, "Sally, Go Round the Roses."
The move to California and the show’s location near the growing music industry in the Los Angeles area, was beneficial in terms of Bandstand landing more musical guests. And in terms of the youth culture at that time, California was becoming an important center of attention. It was “where the action was,” as Clark would later explain. “Everything was going on there. The surfing craze was high on everybody’s list of things to do, whether you lived near water or not. Everybody wanted to have bleached-blonde straight hair… So I figured I’d better get out [there].”
Still, the 1963-1964 period became something of dividing line for Bandstand and the nation. With the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, America fell into a period of mourning and national soul-searching. And with the turn of the new year in 1964, the music began to change as well. In February 1964, after the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, “Beatlemania” swept the country. Plain Vanilla rock ‘n roll was heading into some new territory, not the least of which would be drug and psychedelic influences.
1962: Top left to right - Martha Reeves, Annette Beard, Mary Wells & Dick Clark. Click for Martha & The Vandellas story.
Although Clark and American Bandstand were then in California and would adapt with the changing times and fashion, after Bandstand left Philadelphia it would never again have quite the same dominance it enjoyed during the late 1950s and early 1960s. As author John Jackson has put it in his American Bandstand book, 1964 became the year in which “Clark’s epic production began its steady diminution…to becoming…just another television show.” Dick Clark, in any case, while continuing to host the Bandstand show for many years in California, was building his career in other areas, including game shows, television productions, and related entertainment businesses through his Dick Clark Productions, which he formed in 1957.
What follows below is a listing of artists who appeared on American Bandstand in 1963 – the final Philadelphia year — along with a few Bandstand “top ten” lists from that year. Artists appearing on Bandstand are listed by date, and in some cases, with the song each performed. Other Bandstand-related stories at this website include, “At the Hop, 1957-1958,” “Bandstand Performers, 1957,” and “American Bandstand, 1956-2007,” the latter providing a general history of the show, Dick Clark, and his related businesses. Thanks for visiting — and please consider supporting this website. Thank you. - Jack Doyle.
Dion DiMucci appeared on Bandstand in January 1963 showcasing “Ruby Baby.” Click for his story.
Skeeter Davis appeared twice on Bandstand in 1963, performing her song “The End of the World” in February. Click for her story.
Surfing music was popular in the early 1960s, and Jan & Dean had a hit with “Surf City,” but appeared on ‘Bandstand’ in March 1963 with their song, “Linda.”
James Brown appeared on Bandstand in June 1963 showcasing “Prisoner of Love.” Click for his website.
Folk group Peter Paul & Mary, appeared on Bandstand May 2, 1963 for their song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
Bobby Vinton performed his song, “Blue on Blue,” when he appeared on Bandstand June 14, 1963.
The Chiffons appeared on Bandstand October 12, 1963. Click for "Girl Groups" story.
Link Wray and group appeared on Bandstand June 10, 1963 performing hit instrumental, “Jack the Ripper.”
The Ronettes appeared on ‘Bandstand’ 2x in 1963 w/ big hit “Be My Baby.” Click on photo for their story.
Jan 2: D. Warwick- “Don’t Make Me Over”
Jan 4: Johnny Thunder- “Loop de Loop”
Jan 10: B. Lynn- “You’re Gonna Need Me”
Jan 11: Freddy Cannon- “Four Letter Man”
Jan 15: The Dreamlovers
Jan 17: Dion – “Ruby Baby”
Jan 18: Paul & Paula- “Hey Paula”
Jan 22: Barbara Lynn
Jan 23: J. Mathis- “What Will Mary Say?”
Jan 28: Steve Alaimo
Jan 29: Conway Twitty- “The Pickup”
Jan 31: Bobby Comstock & The Counts
Feb 1: The Dreamlovers
Feb 4: Bobby Rydell- “Love is Blind”
Feb 6: J. Darren- “Pin A Medal on Joey”
Feb 8: Lou Christie- “The Gypsy Cried”
Feb 12: Sandy Stewart
Feb 14: S. Davis- “End Of The World”
Feb 19: J. Ray- “Look Out, Chattanooga”
Feb 20: Lou Christie- “The Gypsy Cried”
Feb 21: Nancy Sinatra
Feb 22: Four Seasons- “Walk Like A Man”
Feb 24: N. Sedaka- “Alice in Wonderland”
Feb 25: J. Tillotson-“Out of My Mind”
Feb 27: Marcie Blaine
Feb 28: Marcie Blane- “Bobby’s Girl”
Mar 1: Four Seasons- “Walk Like a Man”
Mar 5: Bobby Comstock- “Let’s Stomp”
Mar 6: Connie Francis- “Follow the Boys”
Mar 8: Nancy Sinatra- “Like I Do”
Mar 12: Johnny Thunder
Mar 14: Jo Ann Campbell- “Mother…”
Mar 18: Anita Bryant- “Our Winter Love”
Mar 19: Timi Yuro- “Insult to Injury”
Mar 22: Wayne Newton
Mar 26: The Dreamlovers
Mar 28: Wayne Newton- “Heart…”
Mar 29: Jan & Dean- “Linda”
Apr 2: B. Vinton- “Over the Mountain”
Apr 12: J. Soul- “If You Wanna Be…”
Apr 17: S. Alaimo- “Lifetime of…”
Apr 18: Al Martino- “I Love You Because”
Apr 19: Johnny Cymbal- “Mr Bass Man”
Apr 23: Bobby Lewis- “Intermission”
Apr 25: Freddy Cannon- “Patty Baby”
Apr 26: Frankie Avalon
May 1: Mickey Callan
May 2: Peter, Paul & Mary- “Puff…”
May 3: Jimmy Clanton
May 7: N. Sedaka- “Let’s Go Steady…”
May 8: D. Love- “Today I Met Boy…”
May 14: Rockin’ Rebels
May 24: S. Davis- “…Saving My Love”
May 30: Lesley Gore- “It’s My Party”
May 31: B. Hyland- “…Afraid to Go Home”
Jun 5: The Righteous Brothers
Jun 6: Dee Dee Sharp
Jun 7: Essex – “Easier Said Than Done”
Jun 10: Ray Stevens- “Harry The Ape”
Jun 11: Frankie Avalon
Jun 12: Chubby Checker- “Black Cloud”
Jun 13: T. Yuro- “Make the World…”
Jun 14: Bobby Vinton- “Blue on Blue”
Jun 17: Miami Beach Show
Jun 18: Nancy Sinatra- “One Way”
Jun 19: Steve Alaimo
Jun 20: Bill Anderson- “Still”
Jun 21: Guest info unavailable
Jun 26: James Brown- “Prisoner of Love”
Jun 27: Barbara Lewis- “Hello Stranger”
Jun 28: Paul & Paula- “First Quarrel”
Jul 3: Dean Randolph- “False Love”
Jul 4: Joey Dee- “Dance, Dance, Dance”
Jul 5: Dee Dee Sharp- “…Cradle of Love”
Jul 8: Stevie Wonder – “Fingertips, Pt 2″
Jul 10: Link Wray- “Jack the Ripper”
Jul 11: Doris Troy
Jul 17: Freddy Cannon
Jul 22: Bobby Vinton
Jul 23: F. Cannon- “Everybody Monkey”
Jul 24: Roy Orbison- “Falling”
Jul 25: B. Hyland- “Afraid to Go Home”
Jul 26: Jimmy Clanton
Jul 29: Patty Duke (Patty Duke Show)
Jul 30: Mel Carter- “When a Boy…”
Jul 31: Frankie Avalon
Aug 1: The Dovells- “Betty in Bermudas”
Aug 2: Freddie Scott- “Hey Girl”
Aug 5: Eddie Hodges- “Halfway”
Aug 6: D. D. Sharp- “Rock Me in The…”
Aug 7: Jo Ann Campbell
Aug 8: Wayne Newton- “Danke Schoen”
Aug 9: Steve Alaimo- “Don’t Let Sun…”
Aug 12: Al Martino- “Painted, Tainted…”
Aug 13: Roy Clark- “Tips of My Fingers”
Aug 14: Dick & Dee Dee- “Love is…”
Aug 15: Bandstand Fans Special
Aug 19: Duane Eddy- “… Lonely Guitar”
Aug 22: Dick & Dee Dee
Aug 23: B. Lynn- “…Laura’s Wedding”
Aug 29: Fats Domino- “Red Sails in Sunset”
Aug 30: Final Daily Show- Dick Clark
Bandstand “Top Ten” List
(30 August 1963)
1. “My Boyfriend’s Back!”- The Angels
2. “Hello Mudduh…”- Allan Sherman
3. “Fingertips”- Little Stevie Wonder
4. “Candy Girl”- The 4 Seasons
5. “Blowin’ in Wind”- Peter, Paul & Mary
6. “If I Had A Hammer”- Trini Lopez
7. “Judy’s Turn to Cry”- Lesley Gore
8. “Mockingbird”- Inez & Charlie Foxx
9. “More”- Kai Winding
10.”Denise”- Randy & The Rainbows
(Saturday shows begin)
Sep 7: Neil Sedaka- “The Dreamer”
Sep 7: The Jaynetts- “Sally Go…Roses”
Sep 14: Dion- “Donna the Prima Donna”
Sep 14: Major Lance- “Monkey Time”
Sep 21: Skt. Davis- “Can’t Stay Mad…”
Sep 21: Garnett Mimms- “Cry Baby”
Sep 28: B. Rydell- “Let’s Make Love…”
Sep 28: The Ronettes- “Be My Baby”
Oct 5: Dee Dee Sharp- “Wild”
Oct 5: Linda Scott- “Let’s Fall in Love”
Oct 12: The Chiffons- “A Love So Fine”
Oct 19: Peggy March- “…Follow Him”
Oct 19: Bill Anderson- “8 x 10″
Oct 26: The Busters- “Bust Out”
Oct 26: Freddy Cannon- “That’s What…”
Bandstand “Top Ten” List (12 October 1963)
1. “Sugar Shack”- J. Gilmer & Fireballs
2. “Be My Baby”- The Ronettes
3. “Blue Velvet”- Bobby Vinton
4. “Cry Baby”- G. Mimms & Enchanters
5. “Sally, Go ‘Round…”- The Jaynetts
6. “Busted”- Ray Charles
7. “My Boyfriend’s Back”- The Angels
8. “Mean Woman Blues”- Roy Orbison
9. “Heat Wave”- Martha & Vandellas
10. “Donna the Prima Donna”- Dion
Nov 2: Dale & Grace- “…Up to You”
Nov 2: Wayne Newton- “Shirl Girl”
Nov 9: Gene Pitney- “24 Hrs From Tulsa”
Nov 9: Sunny & Sunglows- “Talk to Me”
Nov 16: Bobby Bare- “500 Miles…”
Nov 16: Brian Hyland- “Let Us Make…”
Nov 30: Dick Clark’s Celebrity Party
Dec 7: Neil Sedaka – “Bad Girl”
Dec 7: Vito & Salutations- “Unchained…”
Dec 7: Chubby Checker- “Hooka Tooka”
Dec 21: Chubby Checker- “Lody Lo”
Dec 21: Donald Jenkins- “Adios”
Dec 28: Bobby Vinton- “Blue Velvet”
Dec 28: Patty Duke- Dick Clark interview
Bandstand “Top Ten” List
(21 December 1963)
1. “Dominique”- The Singing Nun
2. “Louie Louie”- The Kingsmen
3. “Don’t Have to Be a…” – Caravelles
4. “There! I Said it Again”- Bobby Vinton
5. “Since I Fell for You”- Lenny Welch
6. “Be True to Your School”- Beach Boys
7. “Drip Drop”- Dion
8. “…Leaving it Up to You” – Dale & Grace
9. “Everybody” – Tommy Roe
10. “Popsicles & Icicles” – The Murmaids
Note: This is not a complete list of all
1963 American Bandstand guests, as some
dates, artists and/or songs are missing.
Available sources have incomplete,
conflicting, or uncertain information.
“American Bandstand – Season 6 Episode Guide,” TV.com.
“American Bandstand – Season 7 Episode Guide,” OVGuide.com.
Among dance shows that Dick Clark did in 1963 was the one photographed above – a “Dick Clark Parade of Stars” show undertaken with CHUM radio in Toronto, Canada on July 19, 1963 at the Maple Leaf Gardens.
Dick Clark at his DJ post in the 1950s. "I don't make culture," he reportedly said at one point, "I sell it."
On July 7, 1956, a young radio disc jockey named Dick Clark made his first appearance hosting an afternoon TV show called Bandstand. Broad- cast from Philadelphia, the show had originally begun in 1952. Bandstand played the new rock ‘n roll music and featured kids from local high schools dancing to the music. When it first began, the dancing was almost accidental, but local TV viewers called in saying they liked watching “those young people dancing.” As the show’s new host, Clark made the most of that novelty, and took Bandstand to the national level. The son of a radio-station owner in Utica, N.Y., Dick Clark had been a radio disc jockey as a student at Syracuse University. By 1951, when he landed a job at ABC’s WFIL station in Philadelphia, he worked in radio, regarded as too youthful looking to be a credible TV newscaster. Clark’s big break came when the station decided to replace former Bandstand host Bob Horn. A youngish-looking 26 when he took over, Clark quickly made the show his own. He featured musical guests lip-synching their songs and used his teenage audience to “rate” new records. Local audiences loved the show.
American Bandstand, late -1950s-early-1960s.
Bandstand, out of Philadelphia, soon became the highest rated local daytime TV show in the nation. That got the attention of network executives in New York. By August 1957, now called American Bandstand, ABC began broadcasting the show nationwide at 3 p.m. for an hour-and-a-half. Within six months of going national, American Bandstand was picked up by 101 stations. Twenty million viewers were now tuning in, half of whom were adult. The show was also receiving 20,000 to 45,000 fan letters a week. Teenagers came to Philadelphia from wide and far for a chance to dance on the show. Bandstand also became known as a place where new talent could be seen; a place where aspiring artists could get their start. On the November 22, 1957 show, for example, two young singers using the name “Tom & Jerry” appeared. The duo would later become known as Simon & Garfunkel. New dances were often introduced on the show. It was on Bandstand that Chubby Checker brought “the Twist” to the nation in the summer of 1960. Bandstand’s “regular” dance couples approached daytime soap-opera fame, and in the 1950s and 1960s they were written about regularly in teen magazines, as was Clark and the show.
Clark interviewing singer Bobby Rydell, 1958.
It didn’t hurt, of course, that Bandstand‘s WFIL-TV station was owned by the Walter Annenberg empire, which also included, among other media outlets, TV Guide and Seventeen magazine for girls. Seventeen had a regular column on Bandstand, “written” by one of the show’s regulars. And TV Guide put Clark’s telegenic face on its cover several times during the 1950s (see sample covers below).
Brokering Rock ‘n Roll
American Bandstand also played another critical role — especially for mainstream culture and the music business. It helped make America more receptive to rock ‘n roll, a music genre not then accepted as it is today. “From the time it hit the national airwaves in 1957,” observes rock historian Hank Bordowitz, “Bandstand changed the perception and dissemination of popular music.” The show helped make rock ‘n roll more acceptable to many adults by bringing the music and the dancing kids into their homes every afternoon, with Clark providing the responsible, clean-cut adult supervision. Clark’s income was soon approaching $500,000 a year.
“We built a horizontal and vertical music situation… We published the songs…, managed the acts, pressed the records, distributed the records, promoted the records… .” – Dick Clark
American Banstand also helped to open the doors to a new kind of music business. And along the way, Dick Clark became a wealthy man, buying into music publishing companies, record labels, and promoting “Philly sound” recording artiststs on those labels — stars such as Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, and Fabian. Clark also became involved in managing the artists, formed a radio offshoot, and conducted live productions. He also made personal appearances as a DJ hosting live dance events called “sock hops” — as many as 14 a week. And he also packaged concert tours, taking the music on the road. He soon had a nice little musical empire in the making. “We built a horizontal and vertical music situation,” explained Clark of his various businesses. “. . . We published the songs domestically and abroad, managed the acts, pressed the records, distributed the records, promoted the records. . . .”
Dick Clark Covers Annenberg-Owned TV Guide
May 24, 1958
October 4, 1958
August 29, 1959
September 10, 1960
“Payola” & Congress
August 1958 cover of 'Teen' magazine with Clark & headline: 'Why America Loves Dick Clark's American Bandstand.'
In 1960, however, the “payola” scandal broke, a controversy involving prominent radio disc jockeys then implicated in playing records for payment to make them popular. Clark was investigated by Congress during the scandal, along with other prominent DJs like Alan Freed. But Clark, in his appearence before a Congresional committee, was cool and thorough in his testimony, and denied taking “payola.” He emerged from the hearings without lasting harm. However, it was later revealed that Clark had been “given” royalty rights to more than 140 songs. ABC did require him to divest his outside ventures, more than 30 by one count, including a number of record labels. Still, Clark and American Bandstand held their popularity.
American Bandstand was broadcast every weekday through the summer of 1963. But in the fall of that year, it became a once-a-week show run on Saturday afternoons. By 1965, Dick Clark, then 35 years old, was making about $1 million a year. By February 1964, American Bandstand moved to Los Angeles, in part to facilitate Clark’s expansion into other TV ventures and film production. It was also easier in L.A. to tap into the recording industry. By 1965, Dick Clark, then 35, was making about $1 million a year. Musically, the sound on Bandstand changed with the times, featuring the California surf sound in the 1960s, and a decade later, the ‘70s disco beat. Through it all, dating from the 1950s when Clark took over, Bandstand was one of the few places on television where ethnically-mixed programming could be seen.
1959: "Caravan of Stars."
In fact, Clark later claimed that he had integrated the show in the 1950s – a claim disputed by some. Clark did feature black recording artists as guests on the show in its early years. When American Bandstand first went national with ABC in August 1957, Lee Andrews and the Hearts appeared among the first guests performing their song, “Long Lonely Nights.” In that year as well, other black artists also appeared, including Jackie Wilson, Johnny Mathis, Chuck Berry, Mickey & Sylvia, and others. Integration of the studio audience, however, appears to have been slow and controlled according to research by John Jackson in his 1997 book, American Bandstand, and also Matthew F. Delmont in his 2012 book, The Nicest Kids in Town. However, there are also reports that when Clark took black and white artists on the road to perform concerts in his “Caravan of Stars” shows of the 1960s – sometimes in towns where segregation was still practiced – he insisted on equal treatment of his performers at those venues, otherwise threatening to pull his show.
Dick Clark shown in American Bandstand's 'rate-a-record' segment sometime in the 1970s.
In the 1970s, with the rise of disco, Bandstand began to become something of an artifact rather than a trend-setter, although still netting its share of popular guests. By the mid-1980s, with the rise of MTV and other music video channels, American Banstand’s format became dated. In September 1987 Bandstand moved to syndication, and in April 1989 it ran briefly on cable’s USA Network with a new host and Clark as executive producer. The show ended for good on October 7, 1989. Yet over its three decades, American Bandstand played a key role in the music business. Not only did it become the place where major record labels sought to showcase their songs and artists, it also generated millions in record sales each year, plus millions in advertising revenue for ABC. As for recording artists — with the notable exceptions of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones — most of the major rock ‘n roll acts from the 1950s through mid-1980s appeared on the show.
Sonny and Cher made their first TV appearance on American Bandstand, June 12, 1965. The Jackson 5 made their TV debut on the show February 21, 1970, as did Aerosmith in December 1973. In January, 1980, Prince made his TV debut on Bandstand. By the mid-1980s, with the rise of MTV and other music video channels, American Bandstand’s format became dated.Among others appearing during the show’s 33-year run were: Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, James Brown, the Beach Boys, the Doors, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Temptations, the Carpenters, Van Morrison, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Neil Diamond, Ike & Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, Creedance Clearwater Revival, George Michael, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, and last but not least, Madonna, who appeared January 14, 1984 singing the tune “Holiday.” But even after the show’s on-air demise, American Bandstand did not die. In early 1996, MTV’s sister network, VH-1 began broadcasting old Bandstand episodes, mostly from the 1975-1985 period. Within three months, these reruns — called the Best of American Bandstand, with taped introductions by Dick Clark himself — became one of VH1’s top-rated programs.
Dick Clark’s Empire
In addition to American Bandstand, Clark amassed a portfolio of other TV and movie productions, among them, numerous TV specials and awards shows. In the late 1960s he did various television series, talent shows, and also hosted TV game shows, culminating in the late 1970s with The $25,000 Pyramid. In the 1980s and 1990s, his Dick Clark Productions, Inc. turned out more than a dozen made-for-television movies, at least 60 TV specials, several Hollywood films, and radio shows. By 1986, Clark had made the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. By 1986, Clark had made the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. In recent years he continued his TV productions, landing a prime time TV series, American Dreams. That show was set in 1950s-1960s Philadelphia and used AmericanBandstand footage in its storyline. It ran for three seasons on NBC during 2002-2005. Clark also parlayed the American Bandstand name into other businesses, using it as a brand and capitalizing on its nostalgia cache. He opened a chain of music-themed restaurants using the name Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill. Several of these have opened at airports — Indianapolis, Indiana; Newark, New Jersey; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah. Two others are located in Overland Park, Kansas and Cranbury, New Jersey.
One of Dick Clark's 'American Bandstand' Grills. Similar themed venues have also opened in airports.
In June 2006, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater — which uses some now-senior performers from the 1960s era in its acts — was opened in Branson, Missouri. An American Bandstand Grill opened there as well. In 2007, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Music Complex, with restaurant, opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Throughout his career, Clark kept one foot in the world of radio, and would later focus some of his business interests there, also using it as a platform for rock ‘n roll nostalgia. In 1981, he created The Dick Clark National Music Survey for the Mutual Broadcasting System, which counted down the Top 30 contemporary hits of the week.
Sample recording from one of Dick Clark's radio programs, May 1985.
Beginning in 1982, Clark also hosted a weekly weekend radio program distributed by his own syndicator, United Stations Radio Networks. That program focused on oldies, called Dick Clark’s Rock, Roll, and Remember — also the name of a 1976 autobiographical book he wrote with another author. This radio program would also sell recordings of its shows, some of which involved Clark interviews with, and/or features on, current and former music stars. By 1986, he left Mutual Broadcasting to host another show, Countdown America. In the 1990s, Clark hosted U.S. Music Survey, which he continued hosting up until 2004, when he suffered a stroke. Although he recovered partially from his stroke, his public appearances since that time have been limited.
In June 2007, Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins professional football team and Six Flags amusement parks, and also a partner with Tom Cruise in a film venture, announced the purchase of Dick Clark Productions for $175 million. In the deal, Snyder became the owner of American Bandstand‘s entire library of televised dance shows stretching over 30-plus years. In addition, Snyder is also acquiring other Dick Clark assets, including the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast from Times Square, the Golden Globe Awards show, the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Family Television Awards. In 2007, Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, acquired Dick Clark Productions for $175 million including Band- stand‘s 30-year library of TV shows. The Dick Clark properties also include the Bloopers television shows and Fox’s popular reality TV show, So You Think You Can Dance. Snyder, who will take over as chairman of Dick Clark Productions, said in a press release, “This was a rare opportunity to acquire a powerhouse portfolio and grow it in new directions.” It was not entirely clear at the time of the deal’s announcement, exactly what Snyder would do with the American Bandstand material, other than mention of possibly using it visually on television screens throughout Six Flags amusement parks while patrons were standing on line.
Today, the legacy of American Bandstand is alive and well, and can be found in various venues, including the internet, You Tube, and various fan web sites. There are also a number of books on Dick Clark and the show, including Clark’s 1976 autobiography written with Richard Robinson, and a 1997 volume authored by John A. Jackson entitled, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire.
Ginia Bellafante, “Ultrasuede Is Funny – VH-1’s Reruns of American Bandstand Prove the Hootie Network Can Outwit MTV,” Time, Monday, April 22, 1996.
John A. Jackson, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Fred Goodman, “Roll Over, Beethoven: How Dick Clark Taught American Parents not to be Afraid of Rock-and-Roll and Made a Fortune in the Process,” Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire, Book Review, New York Times, October 26, 1997.
Richard Corliss, “Philly Fifties: Rock ‘n Radio,” Saturday, July 14, 2001.
Hank Bordowitz, Turning Points in Rock and Roll, Citadel Press, 2004.
Thomas Heath and Howard Schneider, “Snyder Adds A TV Icon To His Empire, “Washington Post, Wednesday, June 20, 2007, P. D-1.
Ken Emerson, “The Spin on ‘Bandstand” – Music, TV and Popular Culture Learned to Swing to the Beat of a Different Drummer: Big Bucks,” Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2007.
Becky Krystal, “Dick Clark, Host of ‘American Bandstand,’ Dies at 82,” Washington Post, April 18, 2012.
Matthew F. Delmont, The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia, Berkeley: University of California Press, February 2012.
Matthew F. Delmont, “The America of ‘Bandstand’,” Washington Post, Sunday, April 22, 2012, p. B-2.
Democracy Now, “Despite Rep for Integration, TV’s Iconic ‘American Bandstand’ Kept Black Teens Off Its Stage,” YouTube.com, Mar 2, 2012.
Alex Alvarez, “DJ ‘Cousin Brucie’ Recalls Dick Clark’s Commitment To Racial Integration: ‘If We Don’t Go All Together, We Go Out’,” Mediaite.com, April 19th, 2012.
John Liberty, “Dick Clark Remembered: the Velvelettes Say Icon Defended Them in Segregated South, Share Memories of 1964 Tour,” Mlive.com, April 20, 2012.
A documentary film entitled The Wages of Spin, focuses on the history of American Bandstand, the 1950s payola scandal, and Dick Clark. A preview clip from that documentary is available at YouTube and additional information is found at Character Driven Films.