Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturtainment: American Bandstand (1952)

Up until now, I've posted performance clips from the long running music series, American Bandstand, but never got around to discussing the show in general.

Bandstand launched as a weekday entry on ABC in 1952, and transitioned to a Saturday-only berth in the 60's, up until it left ABC in 1987. Dick Clark, the man most closely associated with Bandstand, took over as host in 1956, and built his production company around the franchise. The show's famous theme song, "Bandstand Boogie", was composed by Les & Larry Elgart, and the original instrumental remained in place until around 1975, when singer-songwriter Barry Manilow recorded a new, more up-tempo version that most fans are familiar with.

One of the most popular segments of Bandstand was the Rate-a-Record feature, in which three audience members would be chosen to judge two possible future hits. Grandmasterfunk92 uploaded this 1967 Rate-a-Record clip, which offers a little intra-network synergy, promoting the short-lived primetime sitcom, Rango, Tim Conway's first post-McHale's Navy series, by playing the theme song, sung by Frankie Laine ("High Noon", Rawhide).

As I've outlined in the past, for several years, Bandstand was inexplicably blacked out in my area as the then-ABC affiliate opted to run syndicated fare for the sole purpose of boosting local ad revenues. When the local broadcast channels shuffled network affiliations in 1977-78, Bandstand didn't benefit right away, but it ultimately was brought back to local screens until ABC cancelled the series in 1987. The series would continue in syndication, and then was picked up by USA Network for the 1988-89 season, but with Clark turning over hosting chores to someone named David Hirsch. Needless to say, without Clark, who by then was again a daytime fixture thanks to the on-again, off-again Pyramid franchise Bob Stewart had developed initially for ABC, Bandstand finally breathed its last in 1989. The series would later return in a clip show format that aired on VH1 in the 90's for a couple of years. Would that VH1 Classic would actually consider adding it to their roster, instead of recycling the same hand-me-downs from their sister networks.....

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I miss the days of American Bandstand!

Before MTV, the best way for music acts to get known nationally was to go on either Ed Sullivan, or AB. I think it was MTV that ultimately killed it.

Every week I saw new acts, heard new songs and learned new dance moves! I so wished I could have been one of the lucky kids who got to dance on the show!

Silly as it sounds, I thought Bandstand would last forever. My parents used to catch it back in the 60s and I watched in the 80s. I figured I'd have kids who would enjoy it too!

Once Dick Clark left the show and it moved to USA, I tuned out completely. It just wasn't the same.

Meanwhile, Barry Manilow is still singing the theme as part of his Vegas show! It's as much a part of his career as "Mandy" or "Copacabana".

hobbyfan said...

Maybe Barry's pushing for a revival? Seriously, though, "Bandstand Boogie" is associated as much with him as it is with American Bandstand itself.

Now that Empty-V and VH-None have all but abandoned music for the cheaper-to-produce-but-duller-on-the-senses pseudo-reality, maybe now is the time for a revival, after all.......