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American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire Hardcover – October 9, 1997

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195093232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195093230
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,655,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anthony G Pizza VINE VOICE on October 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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