American Bandstand
Logo used from 1969 to 1987
Also known asBandstand (1952–1957)
Presented by
Narrated byCharlie O'Donnell
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons
No. of episodes3,002
Running time
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseOctober 7, 1952 (1952-10-07) –
May 3, 2002 (2002-05-03)

American Bandstand (AB) is an American music-performance and dance television program that aired regularly in various versions from 1952 to 1989,[1] and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as the program's producer. It featured teenagers dancing to Top 40 music introduced by Clark. The program was televised from Philadelphia from its 1952 debut until its move to Los Angeles in 1963.

Over the decades, a wide range of musical acts, from Jerry Lee Lewis to Run-DMC, appeared in person to lip-sync one of their latest singles. Artists would sing naturally to the studio audience over a background of their own disc, while viewers at home would hear only the original recording.[2] Freddy Cannon holds the record for most appearances, at 110.

The show's popularity helped Clark become a media mogul and inspired similar long-running music programs, such as Soul Train and British series Top of the Pops. Clark eventually assumed ownership of the program through his Dick Clark Productions company.


Dick Clark talks to Myrna Horowitz, one of the original dancers when the program began in 1952, on the show's 18th anniversary in 1970.

American Bandstand premiered locally in late March 1952 as Bandstand on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6, which is now WPVI-TV, as a replacement for a weekday movie that had shown predominantly British films. Hosted by Bob Horn as a television adjunct to his radio show of the same name on WFIL radio, Bandstand featured short musical films produced by Snader Telescriptions and Official Films, with occasional studio guests. This incarnation was an early version of the music video shows that became popular in the 1980s, featuring films that were the ancestors of music videos.

Horn, however, was disenchanted with the program, and wanted to change the show to a dance program with teenagers dancing along on camera as records played, based on an idea that came from a radio show on WPEN, The 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. This more-familiar version of Bandstand debuted on October 7, 1952, in "Studio 'B'", which was located in their just-completed addition to the original 1947 building in West Philadelphia^ , and was hosted by Horn, with Lee Stewart as co-host until 1955.

Stewart was the owner of a TV/Radio business in Philadelphia and, even though he was an older gentleman, his advertising account was a large one for WFIL-TV, so he was put on the program to appease the account. As WFIL grew financially and the account became less important, Stewart wasn't needed and was eventually dropped from the program. Tony Mammarella was the original producer with Ed Yates as director. The short Snader and Official music films continued in the short term to fill gaps when dancers were changed during the show—a necessity, because the studio could not fit more than 200 teenagers.

On July 9, 1956, Horn was fired after a drunk driving arrest, as WFIL and dual owner Walter Annenberg's The Philadelphia Inquirer were then running a series on drunken driving. He was also reportedly involved in a prostitution ring and brought up on morals charges.[3] Horn was temporarily replaced by producer Tony Mammarella before the job went to Dick Clark permanently.

In late spring of 1957, the ABC television network asked their O&O's and affiliates for programming suggestions to fill their 3:30 p.m. (ET) time slot, In Philadelphia, WFIL was already preempting ABC programming with Bandstand. Clark decided to pitch the show to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, and after some negotiations the show was picked up nationally, becoming American Bandstand on August 5, 1957. This first national broadcast of American Bandstand was filmed in the Starlight Ballroom in Wildwood, New Jersey. One show from this first season (December 18, 1957, identified as the "Second National Telecast") is preserved in the archives of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

One market not telecasting Bandstand was Baltimore affiliate WAAM (now WJZ-TV), which chose to produce its own local dance show in the same afternoon time slot. Local radio disc jockey Buddy Deane was chosen as the host of The Buddy Deane Show on Channel 13, and began a daily two hour broadcast on September 9, 1957. This development created a sometimes heated rivalry between Dick Clark and Buddy Deane, when performers who appeared first on Deane's program were refused booking on American Bandstand. Acts debuting on Bandstand appeared on Deane's program, but were asked to not mention their previous appearance with Clark while on the Baltimore show. The Buddy Deane Show aired on WJZ-TV until January 4, 1964.

"Studio 'B'" measured 80 by 80 by 24 feet (24.4 m × 24.4 m × 7.3 m), but appeared smaller due to the number of props, television cameras, and risers that were used for the show. It was briefly shot in color in 1958 when WFIL-TV began experimenting with the new technology. Due to the size of the studio, the need to have as much dance space as possible, and the size of the cumbersome color camera compared to the black-and-white models, it was only possible to have one RCA TK-41 where three RCA TK-10s[4] had been used before. WFIL reverted to the TK-10s two weeks later when ABC refused to carry the color signal and management realized that the show lost perspective without the extra cameras.

Program features


Clark regularly asked teenagers their opinions of the songs being played, through the "Rate-a-Record" segment. During the segment, two audience members each ranked two records on a scale of 35 to 98, after which their two opinions were averaged by Clark, who then asked the chosen members to justify their scores. The segment gave rise to the catchphrase "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it."[5] In one humorous segment broadcast for years on retrospective shows, comedians Cheech and Chong appeared as the record raters.

Featured artists typically performed their current hits by lip-syncing to the released version of the song.


Dick Clark in a promotional image for American Bandstand in 1961
Charlie O'Donnell, the show's announcer

The only singer to ever co-host the show with Dick Clark was Donna Summer, who joined him to present a special episode dedicated to the release of the Casablanca film Thank God It's Friday on May 27, 1978. From the late 1950s and most of the 1960s, Clark's on-camera sidekick was announcer Charlie O'Donnell, who later went on to announce Wheel of Fortune and other programs hosted or produced by Clark, such as The $100,000 Pyramid. There were occasional shows that were not hosted by Clark, in which case a substitute host (among them Rick Azar) was brought in.[6]

Theme music

Bandstand originally used "High Society" by Artie Shaw as its theme song, but by the time the show went national, it had been replaced by various arrangements of Charles Albertine's "Bandstand Boogie", including Les Elgart's big-band recording remembered by viewers of the daily version. From 1969 to 1974, "Bandstand Theme", a synthesized rock instrumental co-written by Mike Curb, opened each show. From 1974 to 1977, there was a newer, orchestral disco version of "Bandstand Boogie", arranged and performed by Joe Porter, played during the opening and closing credits. Elgart's version was released as a single in March 1954 (Columbia 40180) as well as Curb's theme (by "Mike Curb & The Waterfall") in October 1969 (Forward 124).

From 1977 to September 6, 1986, the show opened and closed with Barry Manilow's rendition of "Bandstand Boogie",[7] which he originally recorded for his 1975 album Tryin' to Get the Feeling. This version introduced lyrics written by Manilow and Bruce Sussman, referencing elements of the series. The previous theme was retained as bumper music. From September 13, 1986, to September 5, 1987, Manilow's version was replaced at the close of the show by a new closing theme arranged by David Russo, who also performed an updated instrumental arrangement of "Bandstand Boogie" when Bandstand went into syndication.

From 1974 to September 6, 1986, Bandstand featured another instrumental at its mid-show break: Billy Preston's synth hit "Space Race".

Changes to Bandstand

Early changes

A January 1962 ticket for a broadcast of the show from Philadelphia

When ABC picked up the game show Do You Trust Your Wife? from CBS in November 1957, they renamed the program as Who Do You Trust? and scheduled the program at 3:30 pm ET—almost in the middle of Bandstand. Instead of shortening or moving Bandstand, ABC opted to just begin Bandstand at 3 pm, cut away to Who Do You Trust? at 3:30 pm, then rejoin Bandstand at 4 pm. In Philadelphia, however, WFIL opted to tape-delay the game show for later broadcast in another time slot, and to continue on with Bandstand, though only for the local audience.

A half-hour evening version of American Bandstand aired on Monday nights from 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET), beginning on October 7, 1957. It preceded The Guy Mitchell Show. Both were ratings disasters. Dick Clark later stated that he knew the prime-time edition would fail because its core audience – teenagers and housewives – was occupied with other interests in the evenings. The Monday-night version aired its last program in December 1957, but ABC gave Clark a Saturday-night time slot for The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show, which originated from the Little Theatre in Manhattan, beginning on February 15, 1958. The Saturday show would run until 1960.

The program was broadcast live, weekday afternoons and, by 1959, the show had a national audience of 20 million.[8] In the fall of 1961, ABC truncated American Bandstand's airtime from 90 to 60 minutes (4:00–5:00 pm ET), then even further as a daily half-hour (4:00–4:30 pm ET) program in September 1962; beginning in early 1963, all five shows for the upcoming week were videotaped the preceding Saturday. The use of videotape allowed Clark to produce and host a series of concert tours around the success of American Bandstand and to pursue other broadcast interests.[8] On September 7, 1963, the program was moved from its weekday slot and began airing weekly every Saturday afternoon, restored to an hour, until 1989.

Move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles

American Bandstand in 1973

When WFIL-TV moved to a new facility on City Line Avenue (one that did not have a studio that could accommodate the show), ABC moved production of Bandstand to the ABC Television Center (stage 5) in Los Angeles (now known as The Prospect Studios) on February 8, 1964, which coincidentally was the day before the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Prior to the move, Bandstand had sourced many of its up-and-coming acts from Philadelphia's Cameo-Parkway Records. The combined impact of Bandstand's move to California and the Beatles' arrival devastated Cameo-Parkway and inflicted permanent damage to the artists signed to the label.[9]

The program was permanently shot in color starting on September 9, 1967. The typical production schedule consisted of videotaping three shows on a Saturday and three shows on a Sunday, every six weeks. The shows were usually produced in either Stage 54 or Stage 55 at ABC Television Center.

In September 1964, Bandstand began using a new logo based on the ABC circle logo, reading "ab" in the same typeface followed by a number representing the year the show aired. This started with "'65", then "'66", "'67", "'68", and "'69" when each year arrived. On September 13, 1969, the Bandstand set was given a complete overhaul and Les Elgart's big band version of "Bandstand Boogie" was replaced by the Mike Curb theme. The "ab" logo was replaced with the iconic stylized "AB" logo (shown at the top of this page) used for the remainder of the show's run. This set and theme music were used until September 1974, with the arrival of a brand new set and the second, updated version of "Bandstand Boogie".

For a brief time in 1973, Bandstand alternated its time slot with Soul Unlimited,[10] a show featuring soul music that was hosted by Buster Jones. Soul Unlimited was not well-received among its target audience of African-Americans, ostensibly due to its being created by a white man (Clark), and because of its alleged usage of deliberately racial overtones despite this fact. Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, along with Jesse Jackson, entered into a dispute with Clark over this upstart program, and it was canceled within a few weeks. Set pieces from Soul Unlimited were utilized by Bandstand for its 1974–1978 set design. As previously mentioned, during the 1978 season of Bandstand, Donna Summer became the only music artist in Bandstand's history to co-host the program.

Bandstand "regulars" from the Philadelphia years

Many local Philadelphia teenagers became household names by appearing and dancing on American Bandstand on a regular basis from the 1950s to the early 1960s:


Move from ABC to syndication and the USA Network

As Bandstand moved towards the 1980s, the ratings began to decline. Many factors were involved in this, particularly the launch and rise of MTV and other music programs on television, and along with that, the number of ABC affiliates opting to pre-empt or delay the program. The increase in competition hurt Bandstand and the variety of options for music on TV decreased its relevance. The other reason was that American Bandstand was pre-empted on many occasions by televised college football games (which expanded greatly in number in the wake of a court-ordered deregulation in 1984) which were becoming huge ratings successes, as well as occasional special presentations (i.e. unsold game show pilots). Making matters worse, on September 13, 1986, ABC reduced Bandstand from a full hour to 30 minutes;[14] at Clark's request, the 2,942nd and final ABC installment[15] (with Laura Branigan[16] performing "Shattered Glass"[17][18]) aired on September 5, 1987.

Hey, our thanks to Laura Branigan for joining us here on American Bandstand today. I hope you've had a good half-hour. Come and join us two weeks from today for an hour version of American Bandstand on Saturday, September 19. We'll see you then. In the meantime, have a wonderful week or two. We'll see you the next time on American Bandstand. For now, Dick Clark on ABC, so long.

— Dick Clark's final message on the final episode of American Bandstand, which aired on ABC on September 5, 1987

Two weeks later, Bandstand moved to first-run syndication.[19][20][21] Dubbed as The New American Bandstand and distributed by LBS Communications, the series' tapings were moved from the ABC Television Center to the Hollywood studios of Los Angeles's PBS member station KCET,[22] with a new set similar to that of Soul Train. Clark continued as host of the series, which was restored to its former hour length,[23] and aired on stations including KYW-TV in Philadelphia; WWOR-TV in New York City[24] (WWOR's superstation status also gave the program further national exposure); KTLA in Los Angeles; WMAQ-TV in Chicago; WDIV in Detroit; WEWS in Cleveland; WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee;[25] and WCIX in Miami.[26]

The first syndicated episode aired on the weekend of September 19, 1987[27] but this run was short-lived; The New American Bandstand ran until the weekend of June 4, 1988.

After a ten-month hiatus,[28] Bandstand moved to cable on USA Network[29][30] on April 8, 1989,[31] with comedian David Hirsch[32][33][34][35][36] taking over hosting duties. In another format shift, it was shot outdoors at Universal Studios Hollywood.[37] Clark remained as executive producer. This version was canceled after 26 weeks, and its final show (with The Cover Girls performing "My Heart Skips a Beat" and "We Can't Go Wrong") aired on October 7, 1989,[38] thus ending the show's 37-year run.[39][40]

Well, it's our last show here on Bandstand and I really want to thank the viewers who have kept American Bandstand on the air all these years. Dick Clark, wherever you are, we miss you. I tried my best to fill your shoes and I hope I have lived up to what you were expecting of me. American Bandstand will be back someday, I assure you. I'm David Hirsch and, on behalf of American Bandstand, I bid you, for the last time, goodbye.

— Dave Hirsch signing off for the final time on American Bandstand's final regular episode on October 7, 1989.

Civil rights movement and social impact

With American Bandstand being originally located in Philadelphia, segregation easily affected the concentrated area. "With Bandstand, WFIL resolved this tension by drawing on Philadelphia's interracial music scene to create an entertaining and profitable television show, while refusing to allow the city's black teenagers into the studio audience for fear of alienating viewers and advertisers. Like the white homeowners associations' concerns about property values, WFIL's version of defensive localism built on a belief that integration would hurt the station's investment in Bandstand."[41] WFIL defended these local associations in order to maintain support.

Once the program went national upon its move to Los Angeles, new host Dick Clark decided that integration was the most responsible move. History goes back and forth with the timing and motives of the integration, but nevertheless, American Bandstand socially impacted teenagers' opinions regarding race.

50th anniversary

American Bandstand's 50th anniversary reunion in 2002

On May 3, 2002, Dick Clark hosted a one-off special 50th anniversary edition on ABC. Michael Jackson, a frequent Bandstand guest, performed "Dangerous". The Village People performed their legendary song, "YMCA" for the audience in Pasadena, California. Other performers including Brandy, members of KISS, Dennis Quaid and his band The Sharks, Cher, and Stevie Wonder performed to remember the iconic program.[42]

Revival plans

In 2004, Dick Clark, with the help of Ryan Seacrest, announced plans to revive the show in time for the 2005 season; although this did not occur (due in part to Clark suffering a severe stroke in late 2004), one segment of the revived Bandstand—a national dance contest—eventually became the series So You Think You Can Dance. Dick Clark Productions is credited as the show's co-producer, and longtime employee Allen Shapiro serves as co-executive producer. While the American series has aired sixteen seasons, its format was also replicated worldwide, from Norway (Dansefeber) to Australia (So You Think You Can Dance Australia).

Dick Clark died on April 18, 2012, at the age of 82.


American Bandstand
American Bandstand is located in Philadelphia
American Bandstand
Location of American Bandstand's filming at 4548 Market St. in Philadelphia
Location4548 Market St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Coordinates39°57′31″N 75°12′45″W / 39.9585°N 75.21259°W / 39.9585; -75.21259
PHMC dedicatedAugust 5, 1997

American Bandstand played a crucial role in introducing Americans to such famous artists as Prince, Jackson 5, Sonny and Cher, Aerosmith, and John Lydon's PiL—all of whom made their American TV debuts on the show.[43] American Bandstand was a daily ritual for many teenagers throughout the nation. The Top 40 hits that everyone heard were matched with fun routines performed by relatable teenagers. It became a staple in homes and heavily influenced American society culturally, musically, and socially. It also was a prototype for musical television properties including cable channel MTV and Fox's reality-competition show American Idol.[43]

References in popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Fontenot, Robert. "American Bandstand Timeline". Archived from the original on April 12, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  2. ^ Arena, Neil (2022). Tonite, Tonite - the story of the original Mello-Kings. London: Arena & Stephens. pp. 88–89. ISBN 9781739083199.
  3. ^ "Bob Horn". Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  4. ^ "Chuck Pharis Web Page : RCA TK-10A". Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  5. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: grandmastafunk92 (March 20, 2009). "Rate a Record". Retrieved March 27, 2018 – via YouTube.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Pergament, Alan (April 19, 2012). Top of newscast salutes to Clark deserved Archived May 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  7. ^ Bobbin, Jay (August 20, 2000). "- A friend and I were recently..." Chicago Tribune.
  8. ^ a b Oldenburg, Ann. "TV legend Dick Clark dies at age 82", USA Today, April 18, 2012
  9. ^ Barnes, Ken (February 9, 2021). "Did the Beatles kill America's radio stars?". Radio Insight. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  10. ^ "TWIN CITIES ROCK 'N' ROLL TV SHOWS". Twin Cities Music Highlights.
  11. ^ "Thom Cardwell: From 'Bandstand' beginnings to film-festival head". July 2015.
  12. ^ Wisenberg Brin, Dinah (August 5, 1997). "Forty years after 'Bandstand' debut, Clark and dancers celebrate". AP News.
  14. ^ King, Susan (May 10, 1992). "Clark and 'Bandstand' Break the Top 40". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ AMERICAN BANDSTAND (1987 Closing Credits - ABC Finale) on YouTube
  16. ^ "American Bandstand, Season 30, Episode 38: Laura Brannigan (Final ABC show)". Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  17. ^ Laura Branigan - Shattered Glass & Interview - AB (1987) on YouTube
  18. ^ Laura Branigan – Shattered Glass on YouTube
  19. ^ Jackson, John (June 3, 1999). American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-028490-9.
  20. ^ AMERICAN BANDSTAND (Show Promo) - 1987 on YouTube
  21. ^ Bates, James (May 5, 1987). "Dick Clark's On a Roll : He Tunes In to TV Trends". Los Angeles Times.
  22. ^ Bower, Cathy (April 18, 2014). "American Bandstand and KCET?". KCET.
  23. ^ Fleck, Carole (September 24, 1987). "Dick Clark celebrates American Bandstand's 35th". UPI.
  24. ^ "RETRO: Fairbanks, Alaska (October 24, 1987)". Radio Discussions. September 12, 2007.
  25. ^ "Retro: Northern Wisconsin, Sat. July 9th, 1988". Radio Discussions. February 2, 2018.
  26. ^ "Retro Request: Sat 10/31 & 11/7 and Sun 11/1, 1987". Radio Discussions. March 15, 2010.
  27. ^ "AB now in syndication: Jody Watley, Dan Hill, David Spade". Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  28. ^ "AB moves to USA network". Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  29. ^ "Clark ends long-playing spin on bandstand". Desert Sun. March 22, 1989.
  30. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (June 24, 2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 9780307483201.
  31. ^ Brooks, Marsh, Tim, Earle F. (March 22, 1989). "Clark steps down from "Bandstand'". Tulsa World.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ Seymour, Gene (April 8, 1989). "'BANDSTAND' HAS A NEW YOUNG LEADER". Orlando Sentinel.
  33. ^ "On 'Bandstand,' Dick Clark Says Goodbye". The New York Times. April 8, 1989.
  34. ^ "Dick Clark quits American Bandstand". UPI. March 31, 1989.
  35. ^ Hochman, Steve (March 25, 1989). "A Last Dance With Dick Clark". Los Angeles Times.
  36. ^ Wilker, Deborah (July 7, 1989). "AGELESS CLARK STILL STANDS FOR THE 'AMERICAN' BAND". Sun-Sentinel.
  37. ^ Borcover, Alfred (June 30, 1989). "BEARS WATCHING". Chicago Tribune.
  38. ^ Medearis, John (November 28, 1989). "Hits Prove Hard to Find at Dick Clark Productions : Entertainment: Performance has been mediocre since the company went public in 1987. Attempts continue to launch a successful game show or sitcom". Los Angeles Times.
  39. ^ "TV Series Finale – American Bandstand". TV Series Finale. March 17, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  40. ^ "Final American Bandstand: The Cover Girls". Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  41. ^ Delmont, Matthew F. (September 30, 2014). "Bandstand's Backyard". Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  42. ^ "Remembering American Bandstand's 50th [Photos]". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  43. ^ a b "American Bandstand and its Legacy". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  44. ^ Son of Svengoolie - 'Good Morning, Sven' (Opening,Show #218) (verse occurs at the 1:35 mark)

Further reading