- Elizabeth Aldrich
American television program. Bandstand premiered in Philadelphia in September 1952, hosted by Bob Horn. Dick Clark became host and producer in July 1956. The show achieved a nationwide audience when it was picked up by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and retitled American Bandstand in 1957. ABC moved it to Los Angeles in 1964 and carried the show until 1987. Syndicated broadcasts continued until September 1989.
American Bandstand, which featured teenagers dancing to the top rock and roll and rhythm and blues tunes of the day, brought popular music and dance into millions of households each weekday afternoon. In a popular feature called “Rate-a-Record,” Clark often asked the participants to evaluate the songs, giving rise to the phrase “I’ll give it a 95 because it has a great beat and it’s easy to dance to.” American Bandstand also included dance contests, and each program featured appearances by at least one popular musical act. The artists, who appeared, lip-synching to their latest hits, represented the most popular performers of the era. Although exclusively white in its early years, many of the artists popularized African American music and dance forms. For 37 years, teenagers watching the show absorbed a myriad of the latest dance crazes, including the twist, the locomotion, the stroll, the hustle, the mashed potato, the fish, the madison, disco, and the hand jive. Although virtually every urban area had an imitation show, including ...