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 direction.

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 newer dances.
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 concert.

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.


American Bandstand


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