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American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire Hardcover – October 9, 1997
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From Library Journal
Nearly 30 years before MTV, a Philadelphia television show called Bandstand debuted featuring teenagers dancing to the hit of the day. When the original host was fired for drunk driving and becoming too friendly with his audience, the show was handed to an ambitious young man named Dick Clark. In short order, Clark went national and turned the show into the most important vehicle in the burgeoning rock'n'roll industry. While Clark barely escaped a payola scandal and is blamed for whitening the music by promoting his own series of contrived teen idols, he is nonetheless the most important nonperformer in rock'n'roll's history. Jackson's (Big Beat Heat, Schirmer, 1991) telling of the story of Dick Clark's 40-year reign as "The World's Oldest Teenager" is fascinating not only as a history of music and television but as a cultural portrait of our country's most tumultuous decades of social change. This is an essential purchase for libraries with patrons who remember Clark and American Bandstand?and that's just about everybody.?Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
``I don't make culture, I sell it'' is the epigram with which Jackson opens this overview of Dick Clark's American Bandstand--the television program that made its star a millionaire several times over. Jackson (Big Bear Heat: Alan Freed and the Early Years of Rock & Roll, not reviewed) also quotes Clark as saying about writers, ``Their overt jealousy of celebrities comes out in print. Their stories reek of sour grapes.'' That being said, it's miraculous that Clark gave Jackson an interview for this book, which explodes any beliefs that people may still hold about Clark being synonymous with ``squeaky clean.'' Depicted as profane, often clueless about musical trends, and motivated almost purely by money, Clark comes off in Jackson's depiction as being a worse ogre than rock 'n' roll aficionados claim he is, for ``whitening'' black music for widespread consumption. Jackson echoes this charge as well, extrapolating at length on how Clark helped popularize Chubby Checker's ``The Twist'' and its accompanying dance, disregarding the five-decade history of the dance in the African-American community. A large section of this volume concerns the ``payola'' scandal of the late 1950s in which Clark figured; he invested in the companies behind the songs he played--essentially giving payola to himself. Behind the scenes, he built vertical monopolies, running ABC's record label, forming his own label, and sharing ownership in a pressing plant, record distributor, and talent management agency. Clark's grave underestimation of the impact that the Beatles' arrival in America would have in 1964 resulted in his show's long, steady decline, but Clark's ability to re-create himself as game-show host and sweepstakes spokesman has kept his pockets lined. Ultimately, this is not at all about American Bandstand's impact on culture so much as its impact on Clark's wallet--a subject that gets tiresome after 200 pages or so. Jackson should have tried less Clark, more Bandstand. (37 illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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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.