Before “The Voice,” America Had “American Bandstand”

Today (and over the past few years) there have been more musical performance shows than we know what to do with. Between American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent and more, we are bombarded with new musical acts.

Back in the day, American Bandstand was the king of the genre. This show has inspired many shows and channels, and it’s time we take a look back at the show and give you some interesting and cool facts about the popular show (and those who appeared on it) that you may not have known.

The Show Aired throughout Four Different Decades

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It is rare that a show even airs in more than one decade, but American Bandstand blew that number out of the water. The show started in 1952 and went on to appear regularly all the way to the late 1980s. And if you think about how much the world changed in that period, it is amazing that this show lasted through it all.

The Show Had 20 Million Viewers a Day

During its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, the show was amongst the most popular on TV, especially for teens. The show was broadcasted on weekday afternoons, which makes the near 20 million people that tuned in each and every day even more impressive.

It Introduced a Lot of Americans to Rock and Roll Music

While a lot of shows were credited with introducing rock music, this one might have the most merit. In its early days, rock and roll music was the music of the younger generation and teenagers. And no show was as popular among the teenage audience than American Bandstand. Think of this show as MTV, before the idea for MTV was ever born.

Freddy Cannon Holds the Record for Most Appearances

With the show running for almost 40 years, it is no surprise that a ton of different people made multiple appearances on the show. However, one man stands above the rest. Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon appeared on the show 110 times. These appearances launched him into superstardom. He made music for years and is still active to this day.

Dick Clark Hosted the Show for Over 30 Years

Not only was the show around for so long, it had a host who also was around for a few decades. That’s right, Dick Clark, one of the biggest moguls in entertainment history, got his start hosting this show from 1956 right up until it ended in 1989.

The Show Launched the Career of Dick Clark

As mentioned, this show was responsible for launching Dick Clark’s decades-long career in the entertainment industry. He went on to host game shows, events, and more. Dick Clark was among the biggest names in show business throughout the 20th century and has American Bandstand to thank for it.

Clark Was Also a Solid Businessman

In addition to entertainment, Dick Clark thrived as a businessman. First, he began a production company called Dick Clark productions, which is still running to this very day and has been for nearly half a century. It has produced a number of good shows and most recently the hit series, “So You Think You Can Dance?”

The Show was a Massive Hit for Teens

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While the show was popular for people of all ages, it really took the teenage group by storm. This show was a daily ritual for millions of teens across the country and many were introduced to rock music for the first time as a result of this show.

Clark Got His Start in the Mail Room

While some people land right into their dream role, Clark did not. Clark actually got his start working in the mail room of a family-run radio station as a young adult. He worked hard to work up the ladder, and it obviously paid off for him. There’s something to be said for working hard to achieve your dreams.

The Show Exposed the World to a Staggering Number of Super Stars

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But perhaps what has led to this show being remembered as fondly as it was and has contributed the most to its legacy is just how many amazing acts got their start due to this show. This show helped launch the careers of Prince, Cher, Aerosmith, and even the Jackson 5. It was truly a launching platform for some amazing musical acts.

Clark Was Actually Not the First Host of the Show

While Dick Clark is clearly the most famous former-host of the show by a country mile, he was actually not the first. Bob Horn and Tony Mammarella both had small stints on the show as hosts, but couldn’t hold on to the position, which is why Clark came in to become the reigning host.

It was the Prototype for MTV and American Idol

This show was largely seen as the first of its kind and led to numerous other popular shows and networks. It was a whole lot like the original MTV; it was a show based around music that was largely aimed at the teens, and they loved it. Many of the show’s most popular elements were borrowed by the producers of American Idol and other recent talent shows.

He Hosted Numerous Miss Universe pageants

While he hosted awards shows, game shows, and tv shows, he also hosted a number of Miss Universe pageants. His promotional company partnered with the event and he was a big part of the show. He also hosted a number of Miss USA contests as well. Dick Clark became successful by truly getting his hands into everything possible.

Dick Clark Hosted His Own New Years Eve Show

Next to American Bandstand, he is probably most known for his Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin Eve, which was an annual new year’s eve celebration he hosted live from Times Square. The show hosted popular musical guests and ran for decades, and was one of the most popular new year’s eve celebrations. The celebration continues to this very day.

The Show Was Almost Brought Back in 2005

After decades off the air, the show was almost brought back in the mid-2000s. He was in his ’70s at the time, but with the help of Ryan Seacrest, it was about to become a reality. However, Clark suffered some medical setbacks that stopped this remake from happening.

It Inspired Soul Train

Soul Train ran for 35 years and was directly inspired by American Bandstand. Soul Train was a musical variety show that largely focused on R&B and jazz music. The show shared several similarities with Bandstand but featured its own style of music that gave it a distinct vibe. More about Soul Train to come later…

Dick Clark Created the American Music Awards

Other than the Grammy’s, the AMAs might be the biggest awards night in music. Clark was actually the man responsible for creating the award’s ceremony as a direct competition to the Grammys. The AMAs were first held in 1973 and have been held every year since.

Clark Went on to Host One of the Most Popular Game Shows Ever

While he is definitely most famous for American Bandstand in the early ’60s, he also hosted The $10,000 Pyramid for the first 15 years of its existence. The show got huge ratings and led to many international adaptations. It also won 9 Emmy Awards which is the most by any gameshow not named Jeopardy!

Clark Was Often Called the World’s Oldest Teenager

While Clark hosted this show in his 30s all the way up to his 50s, he was called by many the World’s Oldest Teenager. The reasoning behind this is because he retained a youthful appearance for most of his life, which could have been part of the reasons teens were so enthralled by his show for decades.

The Show Broke Racial Boundaries

In a time when racism was seemingly everywhere, it could not be found on this show. He regularly had black guests on the show and there were even interracial performances on the series, which was rare at the time. American Bandstand was also one of the first shows to allow different races to sit with each other in the studio audience.

So Brazen!

It was mentioned earlier that American Bandstand was inspired by Soul Train. But not many people know that Dick Clark actually wanted Soul Train host Don Cornelius removed from the show because he wanted his own black dance program, called Soul Unlimited. Can you imagine? Clarence Avant, who was a dominant presence in the African American music business and an NBC consultant, was livid when he learned of this, and Clark’s plan never came to fruition.

Payola!

Dick Clark was involved in the 1960 Payola hearings, which investigated accusations of illegal acts in which record companies paid radio stations to broadcast certain songs as if they are merely part of regular airtime. Those stations are required by law to disclose that the songs are sponsored airplay. During the hearings, Clark admitted to owning stakes in 33 record labels and distributors. However, Clark survived the Payola scandals by divesting himself of all those business stakes before the trials began. Tricky Dick!