From the Land of Band Box Records

The Original Bandstand

February 18, 2016

The “Untold Story” by Stanley J. Blitz

(229 pages – Cornucopia Publications – 1997 as told to John Pritchard)

blitz bookThis is a bit of a strange little book with a mission:  Stanley sets out to establish the following:

  • Bandstand founder Bob Horn belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame belongs in Philadelphia – not Cleveland
  • Bob Horn stands on nearly equal ground with Alan Freed as the purveyor of Rock and Roll
  • There was a mystery (read conspiracy) to get rid of Bob Horn by WFIL executives and replace him with Dick Clark
  • Dick Clark was less than straightforward in his treatment of Bob Horn in his biographies
  • Bob Horn was a much better and more popular host of Bandstand than the young Clark

Well, that’s a log to bite off and beyond Stanley, I’m not sure anyone cares.  But it was a noble effort.  Horn is portrayed as a rhythm and blues enthusiast working outside the accepted norms of society to promote black music in the early 1950’s.  The photo section of the book displays Horn with Pat Boone, Joni James, Jerry Blavat, Tony Bennett, Johnny Ray, Julius LaRosa and many more stars of the pop but no so much rock era.  But of course spinning records in 1952, 1953, etc., wouldn’t present much opportunity to really rock out.  Haley’s Comets did make it onto the show in 1955 – Now remember this was strictly a radio show in the beginning.

The book features some strange formatting and layout – Most of the photos are poor reproductions down a few generations.  The presentation of the “mystery” behind Horn, his “suspicious death” and his legacy tended to wear me down a bit.  The book has some interesting historical merit.  But in spite of the effort, I will still take Dick Clark and American Bandstand, but I am a member of the “next” generation to follow the Bandstand original regulars.

I did find this fact interesting:  “The term “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was chosen by the industry jocks and such to avoid risking an infringement of treading on Alan Freed’s coined term “Rock and Roll”.  I didn’t know that.  Horn was replaced by Dick Clark in 1956 after receiving a drunk driving charge and was also acquitted of a more serious allegation – read for yourself on Wiki.  Horn died from a heart attack in Houston, TX in 1966 at a rather young age of 50.

The Father of Rock 'n' Roll?

The Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll?



  1. There’s quite the write-up, thorough but hard to read because of the layout, here: http://www.history-of-rock.com/bob_horntwo.htm

    The main source of the article seems to be Horn’s son, Peter. The various names that show up are interesting, too. Jerry Blavat (misspelled as Blavit) remains active in the Philadelphia oldies scene; Tony Mammarella was the founder and owner of Swan Records (along with, some say, a shadow interest in the company by Dick Clark).

    Horn apparently was the real developer of the Bandstand concept, but of course Clark is the one who took it to outsized proportions.

    Thanks for this post; very interesting! (I don’t think I’ll buy the book, though.)

  2. One more blog on the subject; this one adds a book, “White Bicycles” by Joe Boyd, mentions the Blitz book and also cites the above website. Find this one at http://www.phawker.com/2012/04/19/the-secret-history-of-american-bandstand-the-fall-of-bob-horn-and-the-rise-of-dick-drunk-driving-statutory-rape-geator-the-bagman-and-mrs-annenberg-is-not-amused/

    “Phawker” names names, so it might be a bit of an interesting read as well.

    • Oh well, he had his moment in the sun – I remember in Clark’s Rock Roll and Remember his recollection of how the Bob Horn “regulars” were going to boycott the show but that ended on the first day after Clark went onto the street and spoke with them.

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