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American Bandstand Premiere and Final Episodes

Updated: Nov 5, 2020



American Bandstand was a music-performance and dance television program that aired in various versions from October 7, 1952 to October 7, 1989. The show was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as the program's producer. It 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 D.M.C.—would usually appear in person to lip-sync one of their latest singles. Here is a quick bio of the shows host, Dick Clark:



American Bandstand took off, due to Clark's natural rapport with the live teenage audience and dancing participants as well as the "clean-cut, non-threatening image" he projected to television audiences. As a result, many parents were introduced to rock and roll music. According to Hollywood producer Michael Uslan, "he was able to use his unparalleled communication skills to present rock 'n roll in a way that was palatable to parents."


In 1958, The Dick Clark Show was added to ABC's Saturday night lineup. By the end of year, viewership exceeded 20 million, and featured artists were "virtually guaranteed" large sales boosts after appearing. In a surprise television tribute to Clark in 1959 on This Is Your Life, host Ralph Edwards called him "America’s youngest starmaker," and estimated the show had an audience of 50 million.



Clark moved the show from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in 1964. The move was related to the popularity of new "surf" groups based in southern California, including The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. The show ran daily Monday through Friday until 1963, then weekly on Saturdays until 1988. Bandstand was briefly revived in 1989, with David Hirsch taking over hosting duties. By the time of its cancellation, the show had become the longest-running variety show in TV history. Here is a clip of Dick Clark introducing The Jacksons, featuring a teenage Michael Jackson performing:



The show's popularity helped Dick Clark become an American media mogul and inspired similar long-running music programs, such as Soul Train and Top of the Pops. Clark eventually assumed ownership of the program through his Dick Clark Productions company.


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