cover image TV A-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol

TV A-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol

Jake Austen. Chicago Review Press, $18.95 (369pp) ISBN 978-1-55652-572-8

Long before American Idol captivated audiences, rock music was practically everywhere on TV, starting with Bo Diddley and his sexually encoded lyrics on The Ed Sullivan Show in the mid-1950s and crescendoing to MTV and VH1, which ""made"" pop-rock icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna. In a series of engaging essays, Austen, editor of Roctober magazine, debates the role of rock on the small screen as an audience magnet, mass culture monolith and subversive tool. He charts the simultaneous rise of rock on the airwaves and rock on TV through standards like Your Hit Parade, American Bandstand and Soul Train, as well as through guest spots on Saturday Night Live and other non-musical venues; and explains how Elvis Presley and the Beatles became overnight stars through TV audiences who never attended a live concert. Austen leaves no Rolling Stone unturned in this rich, compelling discourse on how rock became a magnetizing (some would claim insidious) force on American TV. From bop and R&B to rock, punk, hip-hop and rap, Austen has a handle on the entirety of the rock phenomenon and how it infiltrated American homes via the tube. Photos.