American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire

John Jackson, Author Oxford University Press, USA $27.5 (368p) ISBN 978-0-19-509323-0
Having previously traced the tragic fall of Alan Freed from top rock DJ to unemployed alcoholic in Big Beat Heat, Jackson now charts the flip side--Dick Clark's multi-million success story. Originally hosted by Bob Horn, Bandstand began in 1952 as a local TV show featuring Philadelphia teens dancing in an ersatz record shop. Radio DJ Clark became the show's host in 1956, and the next year American Bandstand was picked up by ABC and became a showcase for almost every major rock star during its four-decade run. A clever businessman, Clark invested in music publishing, record distribution and road shows, expanding as a producer, actor and game-show host. When the payola scandals erupted in the late 1950s, the network insisted that Clark sell his music-related companies to remain on the show. Denying that he had accepted payments to play records or that he had favored tunes in which he had a financial stake, Clark evaded the scandal while others saw their careers destroyed. Jackson devotes many pages to Clark's ventures, divestitures and the edgy behind-the-scenes efforts of ABC and Clark to ""weather the payola storm""--often questioning Clark's claims. Equally fascinating is the effort to clarify the exact role of Clark and his shows in tearing down racial barriers. There are a few minor errors (e.g., MAD premiered a few months before, not at the same time as the original Bandstand), but Jackson's exhaustive research through hundreds of clippings, books, films, liner notes, press releases, government documents, as well as interviews with more than 50 music-industry people, make this encyclopedic assemblage of forgotten facts valuable and authoritative. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-19-513089-8
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