My path to this blog has taken a long time, more than 15 years, to be more precise.
It began in the spring of 1997, when I used some of the advance money I received for my book on the last tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper and spent a couple of weeks in Philadelphia to work on my next project - a biography on Dick Clark.
One of my first stops was to Val Shively's record shop in Upper Darby. If you haven't been to the shop, check out this video:
Now you know why this is a must-stop if you want to learn about Philadelphia record history. When I told Val why I was in town, he relayed the sad news that John Jackson's book about Dick Clark and his business empire was about to be published "any day now."
Still, I continued to do some research, including scouring the clip files of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. A few days later, I met with Davey Frees at his Ephrata, Pa., home. When Davey told me that Bunny Gibson was planning to write a book about American Bandstand from her perspective as a regular dancer on the show, I was intrigued.
Bunny and I went on to have many conversations about how such a book could be written. During this time, she invited me to a party with some of her West Coast American Bandstand friends at her home in Marina del Rey, California, where she was (and still is) a busy actress.
Even though the focus of our book was to be the Philadelphia years of Bandstand, I caught a red-eye flight out of Des Moines, Iowa, for the party. It was a whirlwind of a weekend as Bunny scrambled to make arrangements for the party (including a dance floor that never arrived!). Many of the Los Angeles regulars from the 1960s and 1970s were there (I'm attaching some photos at the end of this post) and I was pleasantly surprised that two of the early Philadelphia regulars were there, too - Myrna Horowitz and Harvey Sheldon.
The dancers were, of course, fantastic, and several camera crews were there, including either VH1 or E! (possibly both) and at least one local station that led their 11 p.m. newscast with a report on the party.
It's hard to believe that party was in July 1997. In the intervening years, Bunny and I have pretty much abandoned the plan of working together on a book, but we're both intensely interested in preserving those magical days of Bandstand. Bunny is very active in all sorts of dance projects and I've recently revived the book project, which is what this blog is all about.
It took me more than 20 years to get my Winter Dance Party book published, if you count from the day I first started reporting it. By that reckoning, I've still got some time.
Here are the pictures from Bunny's party:
Do you have any stories about Bandstand, Dick Clark or growing up in the Philadelphia area during the show's run at WFIL-TV? Please share them in the comments section or e-mail them to me.