American Bandstand -
A Teenage Icon
By Erika Cox
American Bandstand was created on the heels of the Rock and
Roll craze but it also helped to thrust the music into a whole new
This new music craze enticed female teenagers to adore any
young male Rock and Roll singer that had the looks and the moves and
propelled many young males to buy most of the records helped to create
what is known as the teenager.
The word ďteenagerĒ was created in the 50ís, so to appeal to
this mass and ever growing audience television producers jumped on the
Rock and Roll bandwagon and started figuring out ways to make money
off of the music. It didnít take long.
American Bandstand began as a local program in Philadelphia in
1952. Although, forever connected with Dick Clark, Clark didnít become
host of the program until 1956.
The show was aired nationally in 1957
and eventually started airing in Los Angeles in 1964. Even though the
show was a talent display of mostly teenage idols it was more of a
display of all the newest dances around the country.
Kids lined up to get on the show and would come to strut their
stuff and dance the Saturday, the day the show aired, away. It was
sort of like the high school dance or the hippest teenage club in
town. Many of the same dancers were on each Saturday and teenagers
across the country became familiar with them.
The show had real couples on it and
oftentimes the show was like a high school drama of whoís dating who
and who broke up.
During the early years, the focus was mainly on the teenage
dances including; The Slop, The Hand Jive, the Bop and some other
Regular dancers often considered
new dancers as amateurs, it was definitely a dance contest featuring
who can dance the best and who knew the most dances.
Even though the producers wanted to appeal to the teenagers,
many parents despised Rock and Roll music and thought even less of the
artists, so the producers were not only focusing on finding the most
non-threatening clean cut host but also the most clean cut and
non-threatening artists as well.
Similar to the music of the early 60ís, which was mainly teen
idol music, the show featured clean cut teen idols who, for the most
part, were one hit wonders. Instead of Little Richard or Jerry Lee
Lewis performing on the show, Pat Boone would perform, along with
other teen idols like Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, and Fabian.
A few demanding disc jockeys were able to get the occasional
hard rock or raunchy Rhythm and Blues singers but that was usually the
exception. Most artists who appeared on the show lip-synched their
songs, except for B.B. King. Eventually the show opened up and
accepted more of a variety of singers in the 70ís and 80ís.
Later on, the show still featured regular dancers but it opened
the doors to many more new dancers. This made the dance floor more
crowded but also teenagers were not the only dancers now, more young
adults in their 20ís showed up to dance the latest dances as well.
Yet, the show seemed to focus more on the singers in the later years
then the dances or the dancers and it took on the form of a mini
Although, it started as a stepping stone for teen idols and
teenage dance crazes it became nationally renowned and will forever be
remembered as a Rock and Roll icon.