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It's Got A Good Beat...

The story of "American Bandstand"


Dancers on American Bandstand

Dancers on American Bandstand in the 50s.

From FiftiesWeb.

   Calling ABC's "American Bandstand" television show a phenomenon almost seems insufficient. "I Love Lucy" may be playing somewhere in the world at any given moment, but "Bandstand" outlasted Lucy's entire career, lasting 33 years as a popular culture yardstick. Before MTV, AB was where America's teens went to learn - not just the new songs but the new styles and the new dances. So closely did two different generations identify with the dancers on this king of dance shows that these kids became stars in their own right, sometimes without having ever said a word on camera.

   Legendary host Dick Clark may have been billed as "the oldest living teenager" (a title the late Rufus Thomas also claimed), but in interviews, he's made it clear that he was simply the middleman, looking for whatever was hip or about to be so and then presenting it to the nation's youth in a palatable format. Ed Sullivan may have gotten the Beatles and Elvis, but Dick Clark and his surrogate children got absolutely everyone else, and while Ed was your Mom and Dad's gateway to pop culture, Dick and American Bandstand were yours. And given the increasingly fragmented, compartmentalized state of entertainment, no show will ever have such an impact again.

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