Fifty-five years ago, on July 9, 1956 Dick Clark became the permanent host of American Bandstand and his boyish looks and straight-laced style bridged the gap between teenagers and their parents, helping to bring rock ‘n’ roll to the mainstream. The show broadcast locally from Philadelphia starting in 1952 and by August 5, 1957, with Clark taking the show to the top of the ratings, the show went national (its initial title Bandstand was changed to American Bandstand). Records were rated in one of the segments of the show and as was oft said about these songs could easily apply to the show itself: “It has a good beat and you can dance to it.”
In 1999, the Archive of American Television interviewed Dick Clark who talks about his long tenure on American Bandstand as well as his other television ventures including the $10,000 Pyramid and New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
Music had changed. Television had changed. It was much more elaborate. We moved from Philadelphia to L.A. in 1964. The kids were fashionably dressed for the time: bell bottoms, long hair, and all of that. We went through the 60’s protest era, into the 70’s, the Disco era, the madness of all of that. Into the 80’s and in 1989, I was about to approach 60, and we had taken the show from ABC who wanted it for only a half an hour a week, and I said, “no, we’ll syndicate it.” Then we took it into cable television, and in its last dying days, it was being done in the daytime at Universal’s amusement park in a parking lot, with no lights, and bare sets. I looked at it one day, and I said, “boy, I always thought of the Bandstand as one my kids. I really don’t want it to be remembered that way. It was my election, I said, just let it go. We made a big mistake in October of 1989. We could have kept it on another three months, and then it would have been in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and the 90s. We missed the 90’s by three months.