Dick Clark

Dick Clark on American Bandstand
Dick Clark on American Bandstand

Probably the best known of the early disk jockeys, in the early 50s Dick Clark was a DJ at WFIL in Philadelphia where he filled in for the host Bob Horn on Bob Horn’s Bandstand at the station’s television affiliate. By 1956, Clark had taken over as the full time host. The show was picked up by ABC and went national on August 5, as American Bandstand. American Bandstand was shown daily until 1963, then weekly until 1989.

American Bandstand featured real kids dancing to Top 40 rock music, sometimes with lip-synched performances by the artists themselves. It is joked that Dick Clark taught the generation how to dance, the girls watched the show and learned the newest dance steps, then they taught the boys (sometimes unwillingly!).

Clark got caught on the fringes of the Payola scandal in 1959 as the U. S. Senate investigated the practice of music producing companies paying broadcasting companies to favor their product. Clark, who had business intersts in music publishing, was investigated and testified before Congress in 1960. Clark was not charged with any illegal activities but he was required by ABC to divest his publishing and recording interests.

He later went on to be involved in a number of other television series and specials as producer and performer including Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, The $10,000 Pyramid (later $20, 000, $25,000, $50,000, and $100,000), TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes, American Dreams, and The Other Half. In 1973, Clark created and produced the American Music Awards show. Originally intended as competition for the Grammy Awards, in some years it gained a bigger audience than the Grammys due to being more in touch with popular trends.