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VINE VOICEon October 6, 2000
In his history of Dick Clark and "American Bandstand," John Jackson had his choice of several stories. He could tell of Clark's ascension to the "Bandstand" podium at a strategic time, hooking Clark, his host network (ABC), and host city (Philadelphia) to pop culture prominence. Jackson could chronicle the city's fast-moving music scene, the teen singers, disc jockeys, and businessmen (Clark among them) who exploited the new music. Finally, he could tell the show's own 32-year story, as "Bandstand" led, followed, then rehashed youth culture.

Despite factual errors (putting "All You Need Is Love" on "Sgt. Pepper" shows as much Beatle knowledge as Jackson claimed Clark had) and unneeded 60s-70s rehash, Jackson's biography adddresses its subjects accurately and engagingly. Jackson sees Clark not as money-grubbing villain but driven, opportunistic businessman who "within the bounds of propriety - followed the dollar wherever it took him."

Clark fought to cult!ivate, keep, and wield a pleasant national image to his advantage. Jackson succeeds most in showing how that image served, even saved Clark's career. Clark's soft-spoken, "nice guy" image eased the transition from the scandalous, tragic tenure of original "Bandstand" host Bob Horn. It softened and widened (some said, despite Clark's objections, "whitened") rock and roll's ease into daily life and the youth buying power enjoining it. Mostly, it masked the clear-eyed, hard-charging figure who not only stood up to federal regulators and network bosses, but parlayed his "Bandstand" success into music-related (torn by 1959-60's "payola" scandal, covered in depth here despite little Clark participation), then rebuilt into complete media-based success.

Fans of early rock will enjoy Jackson's musical side trips. He looks at the "Bandstand" dancers' quick fame, the synergy and rivalry between the show, Philadelphia promoters, and disc jockeys, the rise of small record labels whi!ch (with Clark's involvement throughout) recorded national hits (Jackson tells fresh versions of the making of "At The Hop" and "The Twist"), and, finally, Clark's move to California which closed Philly music dominance (and, to believe Jackson, did little for "Bandstand," either). Figures like musician Charlie Gracie, producer Tony Mammarella, and songwriters Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, today unknown outside Philadelphia music, are remembered either as villain or victim. The last chapters, describing Clark's adjusting the "Bandstand" image to changing musical times, are among the book's most intriguing.

The result makes "American Bandstand" unflinching, unfawning yet high-minded critique that Clark, generally no friend of critics, could support. The epilogue essays Clark's motivations, how he achieved and maintained fame and riches yet still promotes, produces, and hosts. Jackson concludes that it's what Clark enjoys doing and does best. That, and the dearth of harsh word!s for Clark by anyone in the book, makes this an incisive, fun read for pop culture fans.
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on August 14, 1999
John A. Jackson's book is the most revealing piece written at length about 'American Bandstand' and the man who made it tick. Jackson comes off as tough on Clark for the way the host rationalized making records and managing talent while playing that talent's work on the air. And while Clark has promoted himself and his show as a trailblazer, Jacksons research shows 'Bandstand' as much more follower than leader. Yet in the end Jackson gives the show and its longtime host-producer their due for the pivotal role both played in furthering rock as a linchpin of American music. Neither a PR vehicle nor a mantra for Clark-bashers, Jackson's book is cultural criticism at its best, with the writer knowing how to get out of the way of his subject.
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on March 26, 1998
There book is more of a profile of Dick Clark than simply a historical account of the show. A must read for fans. I was wondering how My father, Edward J. Yates, who directed American Bandstand for 18 years was not even mentioned. His association with the show predates Clarks. Ed still lives in the Philadelpia area.
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on October 7, 2012
My first thought is I got so sick and tired of "catchphrases" or "catch words" that the author used. It is an egotistical display. We get it! You're educated - sort of! For anybody that really loves "Bandstand" you want the facts mam - just the facts. You get facts but boy are they interwoven into a blowhard presentation. It is interesting to compare this book with Dick Clark's "Rock Roll & Remember." Dick does indeed touch on all the subjects in THIS book but it's interesting to see how blandly Clark talks about them and you don't really get the details. He sugar coats it all and downplays it.

This particular book does make you go, "Ohhhhhh! So THAT'S what was going on!" Without having a previous historical background on Bandstand or Dick Clark you'll come away confused and bored. It is not an easy read. It's a tedious read because of all the "high brow" attitude the author takes. You have to put it down and come back to it. I started to laugh when the author would use the same descriptive word and went back and started counting how many times he used that word. Mostly I came away thinking that the author was more proud of and concentrated on his vocabulary than getting the facts out. It could have been a shorter more concise book and punched some topics home.

I'm glad I read it though. After reading Dick Clark's book I was left feeling there was more to tell and I was right! The suspicions that I had about Clark were pretty much summed up.
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on December 31, 2012
In the Internet age, there are innumerable ways for people to release and discover music. In the early days of rock and roll, which coincided with the years of the rise of television, Dick Clark's show "American Bandstand" was the premier platform on which new acts sought to perform. The show was immense in the Fifties, an era with a much smaller media, and author John Jackson chronicles Clark's life and the show's history in this volume.

Jackson looks back at Clark's early years, noting that the host discovered early on his interests in broadcasting and entrepreneurship. The author recalls the pre-Clark years of "American Bandstand," opines on why the show was born in Philadelphia and not in another city, tracks Clark's ascent to the host role (and why he succeeded after he attained it), and discusses how then-third place ABC broke the show nationally to huge success.

The heyday of "American Bandstand" was the late Fifties and early Sixties, and Jackson remembers the appearances of some of the biggest groups of the era and the huge hits that they performed. Civil rights was a growing movement during the show's peak years, and the book discusses rock music's impact on race relations at that time.

Clark faced adversity in those years--Jackson critically recalls the host's role in the payola scandal. Clark was forced to testify before Congress in hearings on payola, but he emerged from the episode to remain a television personality for decades after that.

Jackson lists the factors that caused "Bandstand" to decline after it was moved to Saturdays in 1963 and describes the last quarter-century of the show's run following the move. Clark's career in the Seventies and Eighties, including some of the other shows he hosted, is also described. "American Bandstand" would be a great read for anyone interested in the history of television or rock and roll.
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on January 21, 2012
Great Book, love it! I never knew so much about the history of bandstand!
This book tells you alot. Great for anyone who likes Dick Clark, and American bandstand!
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on May 22, 2012
Brings back fond memories or childhood and music talent. A classic. One for the Baby Boomers to have. A must to have in one's home library stock.
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on February 3, 2013
after years of watching bandstand i had no idea Clark was such a backstabbing SOB. his involvement in the payoila scandlas was ameliorated by his covering up details of his web of musical paybacks and by tossing a good friend under the bus.

he was an excellent business man and never did something that wouldn't make a buck.

the author has done a good job of exposing the man behind the myth
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on October 14, 2008
Mr. Jackson, with whom I have spoken, has presented his facts well and in quite readable form. This is not a fluff piece, or romantic novel. It is an academic work on a period few have explored to this depth.
Personally, he is right on the payola bucks money-facts and the behind the scenes power plays. His research was extensive. His finished product supports that.
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on May 28, 2012
Wow, and they called John Gotti the teflon don? Dick Clark managed to skate through Payola while many of his associates went down in flames, but his every man for himself attitude kept him afloat. And even many years later when people generally soften and take responsibility for their part of suspect situations, Mr. Clark remained adamant or fuzzy on his part of being on the take. This book is a narrative not just of Dick Clark, but of the entire music and cultural movement of the 50's and 60's. And while I applaud Dick Clark's enterprising acumen, I finished the book not liking him, and wondering if in the end his amassing cash was worth friendships thrown under the bus. RIP
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