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American Bandstand Timeline

The most important events in the history of Dick Clark's legendary TV show


American Bandstand Timeline

Dick Clark hosting "American Bandstand" in the late 1950s

October 7, 1952: The Philadelphia dance show "Bandstand," hosted by Bob Horn, debuts on WFIL-TV. The braindchild of Horn, it takes the popular "ballroom" live radio show format, now becoming ever more popular with teenagers, and points a camera at it, presenting a cheap and easy way for the new medium to fill afternoon airtime. The DJ actually playing the records is a New York transplant and former announcer named Dick Clark.
July 9, 1956: When Horn is arrested for driving under the influence -- just as his station is in the middle of an ongoing expose of drunk drivers -- Dick Clark is asked to assume full-time hosting duties of "Bandstand."
August 5, 1957: ABC airs the first national broadcast of "Bandstand," still emanating from Philly but now called "American Bandstand." (Clark convinced the network brass to fill its 3:30 pm EST slot with the show after saving a few kinoscopes of the program and pitching it to them as a cheap way to appeal to the youth demographic, which perennial third-place ABC desperately wanted to target.) It is an immediate ratings smash.
August 7, 1957: Paul Anka becomes the first performer to make his first national TV appearance on "American Bandstand," singing his new song "Diana."
October 7, 1957: "Bandstand" is already so successful that ABC decides on an additional half-hour prime time version on Monday nights, also hosted by Clark. It flops resoundingly when the brass refuse to listen to Clark's insistence that his main audience -- "housewives and teenagers" -- were busy doing other things at that time of the night.
November 1, 1957: Dick hears a song called "Do the Bop," by an act called Danny and the Juniors, and agrees to play it on the show if they go back and recut it as "At The Hop," since "Bandstand" was sort of a national version of a "sock hop" dance. The song is also an instant hit.
November 22, 1957: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, then an Everly Brothers-style act going by the name Tom & Jerry, make their American TV debut on "Bandstand" performing their song "Hey! Little Schoolgirl."
February 9, 1958: Ratings show that "American Bandstand" is ABC's top-rated daytime television program, with an average of 8,400,000 viewers per day.
March 18, 1958: Jerry Lee Lewis plays "Bandstand," performing three songs live in the studio: "Great Balls Of Fire," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," and "Breathless." He becomes the first guest to perform three songs on the program, and the only one not to lip-synch his own hits.
August 7, 1958: Dion and the Belmonts make their first US television appearance, performing "No One Knows."
October 28, 1958: Buddy Holly makes his last TV appearance before his death, miming to "It's So Easy" and "Heartbeat."
November 10, 1958: Billboard magazine reports that "American Bandstand" is the hottest merchandising opportunity on television, noting that sales of Beechnut gum have doubled since the company begin buying ad space on the program.
January 1, 1959: For the first time, "Bandstand" is the most popular daytime television show in the US.
June 29, 1959: Dick Clark announces his first series of four "Caravan of Stars" concerts over the course of the next year, with his first being headlined by the Skyliners of "Since I Don't Have You" fame.
August 6, 1960: When scheduled guest Hank Ballard and the Midnighters fail to show up to perform their hit R&B song "The Twist," Clark convinces friend Chubby Checker to go into the studio quickly and cut a soundalike version in half an hour. Demonstrating the dance on TV, Chubby gets an instant #1 hit and sets off the nationwide "dance craze" that would last the better part of two years.
October 3, 1960: Ike and Tina Turner make their US television debut on "Bandstand," performing their song "A Fool in Love."
October 18, 1960: Gary "U.S." Bonds makes his US television debut on "Bandstand," performing "New Orleans."
December 27, 1960: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles make their first US TV appearance, singing "Shop Around."
June 26, 1961: Doo-wop group The Marcels make their US television debut on "Bandstand," performing their rendition of "Blue Moon."
July 20, 1961: Detroit vocal group Gladys Knight & the Pips, not yet signed to Motown, make their US television debut, singing their early doo-wop-styled hit "Every Beat of My Heart."
January 22, 1962: Gene Chandler makes his US television debut singing "Duke of Earl."
March 5, 1962: The Marvelettes appear for the second time on "Bandstand," singing their followup to "Please Mr. Postman," a tune called "Twistin' Postman." When Clark interviews the group, member Juanita Cowart nervously makes an on-air flub by claiming that Detroit is a suburb of the group's home, Inkster, MI. She is so mercilessly teased by other members afterwards that she leaves the group.
August 2, 1962: A young Aretha Franklin, not yet signed to Atlantic, makes her US television debut, singing "Don't Cry Baby" and "Try a Little Tenderness."
July 8, 1963: A 12-year-old Stevie Wonder sings "Fingertips" in his US television debut.
September 7, 1963: "Bandstand" ceases its daily run and becomes a weekly Saturday show on ABC, a time slot it will occupy for the rest of its run.
February 8, 1964: In order to be closer to the seat of the television industry, Dick Clark moves "American Bandstand" from Philadelphia to the ABC Studios in Los Angeles.
June 12, 1965: Unknowns Sonny and Cher make their US TV debut by singing a tune called "Just You."
June 25, 1966: Songwriter Neil Diamond makes his US TV debut as a solo act with the song "Solitary Man."
June 24, 1966: 5th Dimension make their US TV debut performing their hit single "Up, Up and Away" on "Bandstand."
July 22, 1967: The Doors perform on American television for the first time, singing "Light My Fire" and "Crystal Ship."
September 9, 1967: "American Bandstand" broadcasts in color for the first time.
October 24, 1967: Pink Floyd leader Syd Barrett, already in the throes of madness and drug addiction, refuses to lip-sync the band's hit "Arnold Layne" on "American Bandstand," staring into the camera instead and forcing the group to cancel its first US tour.
May 3, 1969: Former lead singer of the Stone Poneys, Linda Ronstadt, introduces herself to American TV audiences as a solo act, performing her version of the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow."
May 24, 1969: The Guess Who make their debut on American television, singing "These Eyes" and "Laughing."
February 21, 1970: The Jackson 5 perform "I Want You Back" and debut "ABC" on the show, and Micheal Jackson is interviewed on TV for the first time. A year later, Michael Jackson performs solo for the first time, singing "Rockin' Robin" on "Bandstand."
June 20, 1973: "American Bandstand" airs a somewhat premature 20th Anniversary Special on ABC, featuring Little Richard, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Three Dog Night, Johnny Mathis, Annette Funicello, and Cheech and Chong.
March 22, 1975: Barry Manilow makes his first US television appearance, performing "Mandy" and "It's A Miracle." He would later take the show's theme song, Les Elgart's swing standard "Bandstand Boogie," and write words for it, recording it as the show's new theme.
February 4, 1977: American Bandstand's 25th Anniversary Special airs, featuring Chuck Berry, Seals and Crofts, Gregg Allman, Junior Walker, Johnny Rivers, the Pointer Sisters, Charlie Daniels, Doc Severinsen, Les McCann, Donald Byrd, Chuck Mangione and most of Booker T. and the MGs. On this broadcast, Clark introduces the first of his famous "all-star" rock jams, where all of the night's musical stars get together and jam on Chuck's "Roll Over Beethoven."
May 27, 1978: Donna Summer becomes the first and only co-host of "American Bandstand" during a special disco show celebrating the release of Donna's new film, Thank God It's Friday.
January 6, 1979: Dick Clark develops a series of moves for the audience to perform while the Village People's new song is debuted on "Bandstand." The group goes along with the idea, and the "YMCA" dance is born.
March 17, 1979: The Talking Heads make their US television debut, singing "Take Me to the River" and "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel." Dick Clark interviews the band, and leader David Byrne stammers a bit about how shy and introverted he is.
January 26, 1980: Prince makes his American TV debut, singing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.”
May 3, 1980: Public Image Ltd. appear on "Bandstand," and are forced against their will to lipsynch their latest song, "Poptones" and "Careering." Lead singer John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) fights back by making the mimicry as sloppy as possible, wandering around the audience and also leading most of the audience members onto the stage. Clark is less than thrilled.
May 6, 1981: Brit sensations Adam and the Ants appear for the first time on American television, singing their signature hit "Antmusic."
June 6, 1981: Kim Carnes introduces America to a song that will soon be a surprise Grammy-winning megasmash, a tune called "Bette Davis Eyes."
March 6, 1982: Dick Clark donates his original "American Bandstand" podium to the Smithsonian.
October 24, 1982: Still a wannabe teen idol years away from taking "Control" of her musical career, Janet Jackson makes her US TV debut as a singer on "Bandstand."
March 5, 1983: Before "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," Wham! make their first US TV appearance, singing "Young Guns (Go For It!)" and "Wham! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)." In the intro, Dick says they sound like "a rap group from Detroit."
January 14, 1984: A young dance pop sensation named Madonna makes her American TV debut, singing "Holiday." In the show's most famous interview, Madonna slyly confides to Dick that her ambition is "to rule the world."
August 24, 1985: "Bandstand" features its first hip-hop act, Run-DMC performing "King of Rock" and "Jam Master Jammin'."
August 29, 1986: The original American Bandstand studio located at 4548 Market Street in Philadelphia, PA is entered into the US National Register of Historic Places.
September 14, 1987: Though already on its last legs, "Bandstand" today becomes the longest-running entertainment show in American history.
April 8, 1989: When Dick refuses to trim the show from its standard hour-long format back to half an hour, ABC dumps him, forcing him to move the show to the USA Network. Clark steps down from the podium after 32 years, handing the reins over to newcomer David Hirsch.
October 7, 1989: "American Bandstand" makes its last broadcast.
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