Book Review: Dick Clark’s American Bandstand

Publisher: Collins Publishers / HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Year: 1997

Pages: 194

Type: Hardcover

ISBN: 0-00-649184-7

I’m Dick Clark. I’ve got the job as the new host of Bandstand.”

Nothing says Americana quite like American Bandstand! Teenagers dancing to the latest hit records while a friendly authority figure oversees the wholesome fun. Dick Clark rocketed to stardom almost overnight when he took over the hosting of what was at the time only a regional program. But with drive and ambition, he pushed the show into primetime and nationwide! And the rest, as they say, is rock and roll history.

Although this was now Dick Clark’s show, he had to make do with the old set. The dated music store backdrop needed to go, and did eventually, but the podium? It followed him throughout the years and right up until the end! The show ran from 1952 to 1989, with Dick taking over the hosting duties from Bob Horn in 1956.

Contents Page

The book is divided into four sections. First, we revisit the 50s and get the story of how Dick got the gig in Let the Good Times Roll. Next, A Hard Days Night tells how Dick got caught up in the payola scams of the 60s, but wasn’t involved, so survived to rock on! Disco Fever drags us kicking and screaming into the 70s where bell bottoms and happy, frivolous beats ruled. Dick admits that Disco music was his favorite of all the genres he played. Lastly, We Got the Beat drums us into the 80s where Dick realizes that he is no longer a brotherly influence on the kids, but now a fatherly figure! John Mellencamp is the first musical guest of the decade. But before the decade would end, Bandstand would be gone!

Television Screen Captures

Dick Clark was now referred to as the world’s oldest teenager but was feeling his age as he looked around at the younger and younger faces of the kids attending the shows. American Bandstand tried to hold on to its audience by transferring to cable television, but the new format just didn’t work, and it was time to say goodbye.

A New Dance for Bandstand

There were many things that came out of this iconic program. Perhaps best remembered are the kids that danced as regulars on the program and became minor celebrities in their own rights. But a dance show just had to have its own dance, and The Cha-Lypso was born! So put on an old 50s record, check out the diagram above, and cut those rugs, kids!

Dick Clark’s last words on camera for Bandstand were: “American Bandstand. It’s got a great beat, and it’s easy to dance to. Thanks for watching. For now, this is Dick Clark… so long.”

Other places to see Dick Clark are on Game Shows that he hosted and years of New Year’s Eve specials. But on April 18, 2012, Clark died from a heart attack at the age of 82, bringing an entertainment institution to a sad end.

I highly recommend this book and you can still obtain a copy on Amazon for just over $20 US. Well worth the price for just the pictures alone! But you also get a rich history of the show from the man who made it what it was for four decades. But for now, this is DisLee… signing off!

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