American Bandstand, while highly rated and beloved among teens and young adult women, didn't have universal appeal. Disdain for the show was widespread among older generations that had grown up in the big band or crooner eras and had little use for rock & roll.
Thus, it was not unusual to see Bandstand and other Dick Clark musical programs panned in the media, which was in control of the generation most likely to dislike rock & roll.
Clark was a favorite target of United Press TV writer Rick DuBrow who once described American Bandstand as “the Dick Clark dance show monstrosity for the squirm set.”
Time magazine was considerable more gracious as it explored the American Bandstand phenomenon on April 14, 1958, pointing out that Clark stood to make a half million dollars that year and that ABC had mailed out some 300,000 photographs of the Bandstand host since its debut a few months earlier. The Time article pointed out that teens have hitch-hiked from as far away as Texas to be on the show “and one Buffalo family did not notice a son was missing until he rock ‘n’ rolled onto the screen.”
Clark's Saturday Night Show from New York also came in for criticism. When more than 500 kids showed up for the 300 seats available for the premiere show in February 1958, the disruptions drew complaints from other theater owners down the street.
Broadcasting magazine's review of that show reflected the generational divide: “Rock and roll and oysters have one thing in common: the effect of sheer delight or outright nausea. There is little middle ground. Accordingly, an evaluation of The Dick Clark Show hinges on individual taste.”
From the Regulars. "Bobby Hughes gave a party for Janet Hamill. She really flipped over the festivities and had the time of her life dancing the evening away with Jimmy Peatross. Naturally, Kenny and Arlene showed up together and didn't separate the entire evening. Rumors that these two are on the outs are just - well, rumors." - Bandstand Newsletter from Barbara Levick, 16 magazine.
Author Larry Lehmer is writing a book about the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. The book is called Bandstandland. It has lots of details about the show you've never read before. If you have any stories about American Bandstand or Dick Clark that you'd like to share in the book, contact Larry.