I try to keep this blog interesting by offering new or unique insights into the show that started as Bob Horn's Bandstand in 1952 and ended its run in Philadelphia as Dick Clark's American Bandstand in early 1964.
A lot happened in those 11 1/2 years of Bandstand, and many of the most interesting things didn't happen on air. It's those behind the scenes stories that I'm most interested in and am striving to share. But I realize that this is not the only place you can get that information.
For many years, all information available about Bandstand was filtered through Dick Clark. That's changed in recent years, though, and much of the previously conventional wisdom about Bandstand and Clark was either incomplete or not exactly true. I first got wind of this several years ago when I interviewed the Crickets for my book about Buddy Holly's last tour. The Crickets - who made their first appearance on American Bandstand when the show was just three weeks old - were the first to tell me of Clark's practice of having them sign over their appearance checks to Clark's company.
There's much more, of course, and this ground has been plowed by more than one writer in recent years. So, as a public service, here are eight places you can go to learn more about Bandstand and/or Clark:
1. The most recent book to cover Bandstand that I'm aware of is by Prof. Matthew F. Delmont of Scripps College in California who refutes Clark's decades-long assertion that he integrated the Bandstand dance floor in his book, The Nicest Kids in Town.
2. Jerry "The Geator" Blavat is a Philadelphia-area dick jockey who danced on Bob Horn's Bandstand and led a protest against Dick Clark when Horn was ousted, yet went on to become a good friend of Clark's and a Philadelphia legend himself. Read his story in You Only Rock Once.
3. The best book about Clark and his acute business instincts is without doubt John Jackson's American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire.
4. Stan Blitz is a long-time fan of the show who happens to think that Bob Horn got a raw deal when he was ousted from the show he created. Blitz' book, Bandstand: The Untold Story, may be a bit difficult to find but this newspaper article has information on how to contact Blitz and buy the book.
5. Director Shawn Swords produced a documentary in 2008 that takes a critical view of Clark's business practices through the eyes of many artists and others who had dealings with Clark, who was described as "one of the industry's first true moguls." The documentary has been in theatrical release and has aired on television, but now you can get your own copy of Wages of Spin.
6. Jack Fisher danced on Bandstand and went on to a successful radio career. He's also put together a neat hour-long video salute to Bandstand with Bandstand Days.
7. Charles Amann III is a big fan of the kids who danced on Bandstand and has created a blog devoted to them, chock full of reader-submitted photos and interesting tidbits. Check out The Princes and Princesses of Dance.
8. Since 1960 no one has done more to keep alive the memory of Bandstand and the kids who appeared on the show than Davey Frees. As president of the American Bandstand Fan Club, "Pop Frosty" has poured his soul into keeping fans informed about matters of interest to them. Davey is the only person on this list that I've met in person (the photo at the top of this post is of us together in his "Bandstand room" a few years ago), so I'm pleased to offer this link with some contact info for him.
As always, I welcome your suggestions and comments. Let me know what you think and what Bandstand story you would like to read. If you have your own Bandstand story or photo to share, let me know through your comments or by e-mail. The easiest way to make sure you don't miss any Bandstand Beat posts is to subscribe. It's easy to do and details are available in the column to the side of the blog. And be sure to tell your friends. Remember, this blog belongs to you and the many other people who have enjoyed Bandstand since its creation more than 60 years ago.