American Bandstand: The Televised Dance Party

Dick Clark, center, hosted "American Bandstand" for more than 30 years.
Dick Clark, center, hosted “American Bandstand” for more than 30 years.

On this date in 1957, “American Bandstand” premiered on national television.

Here are some things you may not have known about the long-running music show.

The show started on a local Philadelphia TV station in 1950. It was called “Bandstand” and was hosted by Bob Horn, a local radio personality. It showed short musical films and had occasional studio guests. In 1952, it changed format to the music and dancing that it became best known for.

In 1956, Horn was fired following a drunk driving arrest and he was replaced by Dick Clark. That same year, ABC was looking for programming for its 3:30 p.m. weekday timeslot. “American Bandstand” went national the next August.

The show, which aired live every weekday afternoon, soon had an audience of 20 million viewers. In 1961, the show was shortened from 90 minutes to an hour, then to a half-hour a year after that. In 1963, the show was moved to Saturday afternoons and was restored to one hour, which is the format that it kept until it went off the air in 1989.

In 1964, the show moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Every six weeks, six shows would be taped over the course of a weekend.

In the 1980s, the show’s ratings began to decline. This was largely due to the launch of MTV in 1981 and the 1984 deregulation of televised college football, which led many ABC affiliates to preempt the show. “American Bandstand” ended its run on ABC in 1987. It aired in syndication for two seasons before Clark retired as host. It aired for one season on the USA Network with a different host. The final episode aired on October 7, 1989.

In 1972, Dick Clark created the “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” countdown show. The show became the flagship New Year’s program following the 1977 death of bandleader Guy Lombardo.

Plans were in the works to revive “American Bandstand” for the 2005 television season, but the plans were shelved when Dick Clark suffered a stroke in December 2004. One portion of the show, a dance competition, was made into its own show called “So You Think You Can Dance?”

Clark turned over hosting duties for the New Year’s program to Ryan Seacrest, although he made occasional appearances for the rest of his life.

Clark died in 2012 of a heart attack after prostate surgery. Known as “The World’s Oldest Teenager,” Dick Clark was 82.

Our question: What Chuck Berry song mentions “Bandstand”?


Today is Independence Day in Burkina Faso.

It’s National Underwear Day, National Oyster Day, and International Beer Day.

It’s the birthday of Joseph Merrick, better known as “The Elephant Man,” who was born in 1862; Film director John Huston, who was born in 1906; and astronaut Neil Armstrong, who was born in 1930.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 2000, the top song in the U.S. was “It’s Gonna Be Me” by N Sync.

The No. 1 movie was “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” while the novel “The House on Hope Street” by Danielle Steel topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

Name the artists from the following five songs that were  played on MTV’s first day.



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