PopBopRocktilUDrop

From the Land of Band Box Records

American Bandstand

May 21, 2015
craigr244

“Bandstand”…

AMERICAN BANDSTAND MAP

…as it was originally titled,  had it’s beginnings back in the fall of 1952 when it was created by Philadelphia station WFIL and was first hosted by a duo of Bob Horn and Lee Stewart.  The two didn’t get along particularly well and in 1955 Stewart was encouraged to depart.  Horn carried on with his unique format of televising kids dancing.  Many of the early 50’s pop singers appeared on the show but Horn injected a new brand of music – r&b and rock and roll.

During this same time period a very young Dick Clark was hosting the radio version of “Bandstand” also at the WFIL studios.  He was disappointed with the records he had to play and yearned to cross over more towards Horn’s format.  Horn would open and close Clark’s radio show and then in-between host the televised version.

Then in the summer of 1956 Bob Horn fell from grace – hit with a drunk driven charge and was promptly dispatched.  This was followed by a statutory rape charge – of which he was acquitted – then another drunk driving charge and then tax evasion.  He had been very popular with the kids on Bandstand and they initially were reluctant to accept his young successor – Dick Clark.  Clark quickly remedied that by personally speaking with the kids outside the studio as they were picketing the opening of his first program.  When the doors opened – Clark was greatly relieved to see the would-be protestors enter into the studio – and “American Bandstand” was born.

ELGART BANDSTAND BOOGIE

Here is a chronological presentation – day-by-day with the performing artists on each program along with a scan of the recording performed and a artist photo – as well as a few time line presentations.  I will take this presentation as far as I am able – toward and up-to-the-date when “American Bandstand” migrated to Los Angeles, California.

The “Bandstand” map shown above was used to begin each show in the early days – with the premiere or “committee” dancers positioned directly behind it – dancing to Les Elgart’s “Bandtand Boogie” which was composed in 1954.

Bandstand went national on August 5th, 1957 with the first two performers being Billy Williams “Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself a Letter” along with The Chordettes peforming “Just Between You and Me”.  Over 4,000 performers appeared on Bandstand over the years – many multiple times.  I am building the chronology year-by-year starting with August 5th, 1957.

1957-08-05 BILLY WILLIAMS PH1957-08-05 CHORDETTES PH

3 Comments

  1. Interesting story about Billy Williams – “Sit Right Down” was his only top ten hit, but he was a frequent low-charter. I confess I knew nothing more about him other than his big hit until I did a little research. Sad ending to his career: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Williams_(singer)

    People forget, because of their young sound, that The Chordettes had a significant career on The Arthur Godfrey Show overlapping with becoming the huge hitmakers of the late ’50s. (By this time, a lot of people forget The Arthur Godfrey Show, too, despite the fact that he was a major star of his time; Godfrey, as I both read and recall, was not the most pleasant person!) They weren’t kids when they started out, either, and actually began as a barbershop-harmony group, which accounts in parts for their unusual arrangements and excellent blend.

    This could be a very interesting series you’re embarking upon; I look forward to more!

    • Thanks Paul – I’ve added your comments to the first show listing – I always thought the Chordettes stepped out from their norm when they recorded “Lollipop” – Whoever produced it (maybe label founder Archie Bleyer?) really got the sound down! By the way Archie worked for Arthur Godfrey on his show and was fired as were others such as Julius La Rosa (right on the air!).

      • Indeed, Craig, at least in the early years Bleyer produced everything on the label; it was why he started it.

        The Julius La Rosa firing was a huge scandal at the time; Godfrey would “get a hair across his butt” and fire anyone at any time; that “hair” came out in full force and was the beginning of Godfrey’s public turning against him. Ultimately, he fired virtually everybody, including Bleyer and all his “little Godfreys”: The Chordettes (one of whom was married to Bleyer), Marion Marlowe and The Mariners (a mixed-race barbershop quartet, very unusual for the era) most prominent among them.

        I was just a little kid when Godfrey was on, but I remember having an inherent distaste for him. Nothing I’ve seen on YouTube or read about him has warmed that up at all. On the other hand, The Chordettes were amazing; they could handle sweet and earnest music with a sense of honesty that was rare. Among my favorites: “”No Other Arms, No Other Lips,” “Born to Be with You” and the regrettably obscure (and later – 1960) “A Broken Vow.” And of course Bleyer gave the world some of the best pop and rock to come out of that era, including The Everly Brothers and to a lesser extent Johnny Tillotson as well as The Chordettes.

        I’ve gone on too long – I should save something for the next post!

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