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American Bandstand began its run in 1952, with Dick Clark taking over as host in 1956. He remained the show’s host until the end of its run, which came in 1989. The show consisted of teenagers dancing to the current hits of the time. It also included musical guests, which varied from Janet Jackson to The Doors.
Bandstand helped Dick Clark become a television icon and it inspired other musical shows, like Soul Train and the UK’s Top of the Pops.
With Clark’s recent passing, we take a look back at some of the best moments that Clark brought us with American Bandstand.
10. Prince makes his national TV debut
In 1980, Prince made his national television debut on American Bandstand. At the age of 19, the Purple One performed “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.” In the interview with Clark, he revealed that he did not accept anyone’s record deals, despite people wanting to sign him because he would not be allowed to produce. This appearance by Prince was at the beginning of what would become a successful career. Throughout his career, Prince would go on to win seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Academy Awards, and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
09. The Jackson 5 make one of their first television appearances
Michael Jackson’s first appearance on this list is with his brothers, as part of The Jackson 5. Diana Ross had previously introduced Clark to The Jackson 5 and in 1970, the band appeared on the show. It was one of The Jackson 5’s first television appearances.
08. The Doors become household names
The Doors were L.A. locals for a while, but they became a household name with the help of Dick Clark and American Bandstand. In 1967, they appeared on the show to perform their songs, “Light My Fire” and “Crystal Ship.”
07. Jerry Lee Lewis performs
When American Bandstand first kicked off, the song “A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On” had the honor of being the first song to be performed on the classic television show. In 1957, Lewis performed another of his hits, “Great Balls of Fire” on the show.
06. The Beach Boys appear for the first time
In 1964, the Beach Boys appeared on American Bandstand for the first time. They performed their song, “Don’t Worry Baby.”
05. The “Y.M.C.A.” dance is established
Everyone knows the moves to “Y.M.C.A.” but what people may not know is that the iconic dance moves became popular thanks to Clark’s show. The kids on the show had established the now classic choreography to the song. In 1979, The Village people performed on Clark’s show. When Clark showed the group the moves that had been established for the song in the Bandstand studio, he asked if they thought they could work the dance into their performance, to which they responded, “I think we’re going to have to.” The “Y.M.C.A.” has been a memorable routine and basically an American staple since then.
04. Michael Jackson comes back solo
Having previously performed with his brothers as part of The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson returned to American Bandstand. This time, he was on his own and at the beginning of what would be an illustrious career. Here, he is singing his 1971 hit, “Rockin’ Robin.”
03. Rate a Record
A popular segment throughout American Bandstand’s run, Clark asked the teens that appeared on the show what they thought of the songs being played on the show. Kids were able to rate a song and explain why they liked it. Overall, I’d give this segment a 92 because it had a really good beat and was easy to dance to.
02. Madonna wants to rule the world
Before she was the Queen of Pop, Madonna appeared on American Bandstand in 1985. She performed her hit, “Holiday.” After her performance, Clark asked Madonna what her plans were, she coyly answered, “To rule the world,” and after that, a star was born and the Material Girl did just exactly as she said.
01. The Twist
The Bop, The Hop, and The Watusi were all famous dance crazes that American Bandstand helped popularize. Arguably, the biggest dance craze that the show jumpstarted was The Twist, set to the Chubby Checker song of the same name. In 1962, the then unknown Checker performed “The Twist” on the show, bringing a new dance craze to living rooms across America. The popularity of The Twist is a testament of how Dick Clark and American Bandstand helped turn songs into cultural sensations.