Bach in 1952, American Bandstand aired for the first time. Over the course of the next 30 years, the show, hosted by the legendary Dick Clark, would go on to become a cultural institution, introducing Americans and global viewers alike to the most groundbreaking musical artists of the time. Artists like Prince, The Jackson 5, and Aerosmith are just a few of the notable names who made their American TV debuts on American Bandstand.
In all that time, the show has certainly produced its fair share of memorable moments. Below are six of our favorites.
1. “School Days” - Chuck Berry, 1958
While Chuck Berry's 1957 debut on American Bandstand (where he played "Rock and Roll Music") was certainly a seminal moment in rock 'n' roll history, a lot of folks also remember his 1958 performance of "School Days." It was May and school was nearly out, but Professor Barry (Clark's nickname for Berry) wasn't done with his lesson plan yet!
2. "The Twist" - Chubby Checker, 1960
Fun fact: although most people associate doing the twist with Chubby Checker, he wasn't actually the original performer. The song was actually by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. When it became popular on a local dance show, the host of the show recommended the song to Clark, who subsequently tried to book Ballard on Bandstand. When that didn't work out, Clark decided to have a similar artist (Checker) come on the show to perform it instead. The rest is history!
3. "Cathy's Clown" - The Everly Brothers, 1960
The Everly Brothers first exploded onto the scene with their classic single "Bye Bye Love." By 1960, they had signed a deal with Warner Brothers and were ready to release their next big hit, "Cathy's Clown." The duo came on American Bandstand to promote the song, which Dick Clark described as "a little unusual, a little strange." The Everly Brothers would go on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
While Bandstand clearly had a lot of great moments involving the musical guests, the show also had several recurring segments that grew to be favorites. One such segment was "Rate-a-Record," where Clark would interview some of the teenagers in the audience and have them rate some songs on a scale of 35 to 98. I'm not entirely sure why they picked those numbers, but they certainly are memorable!
5. "Great Balls of Fire" - Jerry Lee Lewis, 1958
Jerry Lee Lewis was nicknamed "The Killer" by a lot of his fans, and his performance on Bandstand on March18, 1958 is a perfect example of why that was such an apt nickname. Lewis performed three songs that day: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Breathless," and "Great Balls of Fire." His electric performance of that last song was almost too much for the audiences back then, and the song sold a million copies in just ten days.
6. "ABC" - The Jackson 5, 1970
It's not often that you get to witness the pivotal moment in an artist's career, the kind of moment that makes anyone watching say, "That person is gonna be a superstar." Watching a young Michael Jackson performing "ABC" with the rest of The Jackson 5 on Bandstand, it's pretty obvious that this kid was destined to be a household name. While the group also performed their hit "I'll Be There," I just can't help but smile and dance every time I hear "ABC."
With a show that's as iconic as American Bandstand was, six moments is admittedly barely even scratching the surface. If we missed some of your favorite moments, we'd love to hear about them in the comments!
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H/T: Dusty Old Thing