Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dick Clark's American Bandstand

When I was a kid growing up in the 1950's,  I'd watch Dick Clark's "American Bandstand"* where kids in Philly would dance on t.v. On Saturday night Dick Clark would host "The Beechnut show".  It was a chance to see your favorite teen singing sensation perform. Many saturday nights were spent at my parents best friends home. The parents talked in the kitchen or played cards while their daughter Jill and I watched this show. In those days we liked to chew gum and make huge paper chains from the gum wrappers It was an innocent time of fun.** 


*American Bandstand is an American music-performance show that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989[1] and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as producer. The show featured teenagers dancing to Top 40 music introduced by Clark; at least one popular musical act—over the decades, running the gamut from Jerry Lee Lewis to Run DMC—would usually appear in person to lip-sync one of their latest singles. Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon holds the record for most appearances at 110.-Wikipedia

**The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show was broadcast live Saturday nights from the Little Theatre in New York City. Every weekend, Dick Clark commuted from Philadelphia to NYC to do the "Beechnut" show. There was actually two shows done each Saturday. The first was a rehearsal show where the artists could sketch out their performances and Clark could line everything up. This would have a different audience then the second show which was the one that was televised. 

Beechnut Gum was actually picked up as a sponser for the third episode to the conclusion of the show's run. The artists that appeared usually "lip-synched" to their records. Very few actually performed live.

This is the only show to be able to make the claim of having Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper as guests (though on different episodes). All three were killed together in a plane crash on February 3, 1959.

Amazingly, Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson, two of the biggest stars of the period, never appeared on the show.

Dick Clark lost this show as a result of the payola scandal.

Up until the mid 1980's, the only way you were able to see selected vintage clips from any of Dick Clark's shows was to wait until their American Bandstand anniversary shows which seemed to run every 5 years. The clips you would see would be around 4 to 5 seconds in duration! In 1986, Dick Clark Productions took a step in correcting this by issuing a commercial home video release of full length clips from the Dick Clark archives complete with intros and outros! The title was called "The Best Of Bandstand", however in the below track listing of the videos contents we see that all of the performance clips from Clark's shows were from hisSaturday Night Beechnut Show! The only exception was Buddy Holly's performance of "Peggy Sue" which is live and from The Arthur Murray Show. Buddy Holly was onAmerican Bandstand twice (August 26, 1957 and October 28, 1958) and on the Saturday Night Beechnut Show once (October 25, 1958) Yet, Dick Clark stated that "The only good piece of Buddy Holly footage was either lost or stolen sometime in the late '60's". Of course the obvious question everyone seems to ask is "So what about the bad footage!" So no Buddy Holly footage from any Dick Clark show was used in this video. 

In addition, the Dick Clark archives contends that no footage of Buddy Holly or Ritchie Valens exists in their vaults. Ritchie appeared on American Bandstand once (October 6, 1958) and The Beechnut Show once (December 27, 1958). A flag was raised when an intro to a Ritchie Valens / Dick Clark clip was used in the movie "La Bamba". The actual performance was recreated by Lou Diamond Phillips but Clark's intro seemed so real that this led to speculation that at least one clip of Ritchie existed and the intro was taken from it. However, it was stated by Clark's people to be a Dick Clark voice over to another intro. 

"The Best Of Bandstand" clips on the VHS home video:
(1) Backstage at Bandstand footage - December 5, 1961 
(2) Bill Haley - "Rock Around The Clock" - February 20, 1960 - Episode # 106 
(3) Buddy Holly - "Peggy Sue" - December 28, 1957 (clip from an Arthur Murray Party TV special). 
(4) Jerry Lee Lewis - "Great Balls Of Fire" - February 15, 1958 Live - Episode # 1 [Credits at the end of the video tape give this date as February 14, 1958] 
(5) Sam Cooke - "You Send Me" - March 14, 1959 - Episode # 57 
(6) The Big Bopper - "Chantilly Lace" - September 20, 1958 - Episode # 32 
(7) The Silhouettes - "Get A Job" - March 8, 1958 - Episode # 4 
(8) Fabian - "Turn Me Loose" - March 7, 1959 - Episode # 56
Dion and The Belmonts - "Teenager In Love" - April 4, 1959 - Episode # 60 
(9) The Fleetwood's - "Come Softly To Me" - March 14, 1959 - Episode # 57 
(10) Paul Anka - "Lonely Boy" - May 9, 1959 - Episode # 65 
(11) Mark Dinning - "Teen Angel" - January 23, 1960 - Episode # 102 
(12) The Everly Brothers - "Cathy's Clown" - July 9, 1960 - Episode # 126 
(13) Edd Brynes and Connie Stevens - "(Kookie Kookie) Lend Me Your Comb" - April 4, 1959 - Episode # 60 
(14) Chubby Checker - "The Twist" - August 6, 1960 - Episode # 130

Ironically, the only clip from an American Bandstand show is not even a performance clip!

Frustratingly, probably do to low sales figures, the Dick Clark archives never followed up with another volume of 1950's clips from their vaults. Nor have they ever officially released any complete episodes of "The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show"-taken from

Here's a clip of the American Bandstand I loved in the late 1950's:

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