BN.com Gift Guide

American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire

( 3 )

Overview

Here is the first book to tell the full story of what happened in front of - and behind - the cameras on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, providing both a history of this landmark show and of the changing styles of rock 'n' roll over four decades. Based on extensive interviews with music business figures, recording stars, and Clark himself, and featuring dozens of rare or never before published photographs, this is a riveting and uncensored account of a show that managed to survive countless revolutions in ...
See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$15.36
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$16.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $4.85   
  • New (5) from $14.98   
  • Used (10) from $4.85   
Sending request ...

Overview

Here is the first book to tell the full story of what happened in front of - and behind - the cameras on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, providing both a history of this landmark show and of the changing styles of rock 'n' roll over four decades. Based on extensive interviews with music business figures, recording stars, and Clark himself, and featuring dozens of rare or never before published photographs, this is a riveting and uncensored account of a show that managed to survive countless revolutions in popular music. Jackson describes Bandstand's humble beginnings in Philadelphia's blue collar south side, the sex scandal that scuttled the first host of Bandstand and enabled Clark to launch his career, the glory days when an appearance on Bandstand was one of the most prized gigs in the music business and when teenagers lined up for blocks hoping to enter the studio, and memorable Bandstand appearances by rock 'n' roll royalty from Chubby Checker and Frankie Avalon, to Jerry Lee Lewis and Jefferson Airplane, to Pink Floyd and Madonna.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Valuable and authoritative."—Publisher's Weekly

"John A. Jackson's fascinating book shows how Clark worked the biz side of pop music to become a multimillionaire and how his show fit into 1950s American culture and society."—Jon Wiener, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

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.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195130898
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/3/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,069,039
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
John A. Jackson is the author of the prize-winning Big Beat Heat: Alan Freed and the Early Years of Rock & Roll.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

Genesis

After almost forty years in show business and broadcasting Jack Steck, program director at WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, thought he had seen everything. Summoned to the office of general manager Roger W. Clipp one afternoon in 1952, Steck arrived in the boss's lair and was greeted by Clipp and "this good-looking kid."

"I know this boy's father," said Clipp. "Audition him and tell me if we ought to hire him."

It was not out of the ordinary for Steck to conduct a job audition at WFIL, so he barely gave a thought to Dick Clark as he escorted the twenty-two-year-old prospect into the program director's office and handed him the usual assortment of tongue-twisting material he used to audition would-be announcers. Steck then showed Clark into a studio and said, "Look them over, son. I'll come back in fifteen minutes to listen to you."

Clark, who was then employed by a small television station in upstate New York, said in 1994 that the WFIL position "was the biggest one" of the three job offers he had at the time, and was the one he wanted so badly that he literally had something up his sleeve to help land it. "God, if I could jump from Utica, New York to Philadelphia, that'll be amazing," he thought to himself.

Steck, who began his show business career on the vaudeville circuit ("some of my best friends said I helped kill it") as a dancer, comic, and an emcee, did not expect to hear anything out of the ordinary when he returned to give the dapper job applicant a listen. At that point, Dick Clark was just another pretty face to the veteran program director, who sat with arms folded and head down. "I didn't want to look at him," recalled Steck. "I needed a man for radio and I didn't want to be influenced by his appearance. I wanted a voice!"

Steck had just begun to concentrate on Clark's delivery when he was interrupted by the engineer on duty, who said, "Hey Stecky, look at this kid!" Steck raised his head and observed Clark standing in front of the microphone, "with no notes in his hands, no papers, doing the commercials word-for-word, introducing the music, the sports, doing the whole thing."

"How the hell's he doing this?" wondered the program director. "Has he got a photographic memory?"

What Clark had was "Elmer," a Webcor wire recorder that was hidden from Steck's view. In one of Clark's ears was a tiny earphone connected to the recorder by a wire concealed under his clothing. As he surreptitiously listened to the recording he had just made of Steck's audition material, the young announcer repeated it for the program director without so much as a glance at the script.

It did not take Steck long to discover Clark's wire recorder and earpiece, and when he did he was impressed, not so much by Clark's ingenuity, but by the fact that he was able to repeat the playback without a faraway concentrated look in his eye. "He had mastered that thing!" recalled Steck, who fired off a memo to Roger Clipp: "In spite of his university education, this is a smart kid. Let's hire him."

* * *

Whether Clark would have landed the WFIL announcer's position without the assistance of Elmer will never be known, although the subsequent course of his career indicates that to think otherwise would be foolhardy. In order to display greater broadcasting skill than he then possessed, Clark relied on his hidden tape recorder for assistance, making himself out to be something greater than he actually was. But after being hired by WFIL and embarking upon his quest to become a twenty-something millionaire, Clark adopted a new, self-effacing tack, portraying himself as something less than he actually was. Despite his introduction to America as a benign television host, when it came to advancing himself, Clark was more akin to a wolf in sheep's clothing--a sharply focused self-promoter and cunning businessman who went to great lengths to contrive his public image.

As Jack Steck observed that fateful day in 1952, there was more to Dick Clark than met the eye.

* * *

Richard Wagstaff Clark was born on November 30,1929, the second son of Richard Augustus and Julia Barnard Clark, in the tiny village of Bronxville, a corporate executive haven of turn-of-the-century homes, located just north of New York City. Although Dick Clark was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, his father's position as sales manager for a New York-based cosmetics firm ensured that young Dickie, as he was called, would enjoy a comfortable, if isolated, childhood.

In 1933 the Clarks moved to the affluent Westchester bedroom community of Mt. Vernon, just south of Bronxville, where they leased a garden apartment adjacent to spacious grounds where Dickie and his brother Bradley could romp freely. The younger Clark brother, a frenetic, contentious nail-biter of a child, idolized Brad, who was five years his elder, and in later years would describe him as a "quiet, very loving, wonderful guy ... everything I wasn't."

Noted dancer Kathryn Murray was a neighbor of the Clarks and sometimes baby-sat for Dickie. Mrs. Murray remembered him as "the sassiest baby, always busy, always into something." But despite Dick's cantankerousness, the Clark brothers developed a tight bond. Brad "lugged Dick around everywhere and was so patient with him," Julia Clark told a reporter for the New York Post in 1958.

By the time Dick became a teenager, the personable, good-looking, and star athlete Brad was a Big Man on Campus at Mt. Vernon's A.B. Davis High. Meanwhile, Dick, who envisioned himself as "peculiar looking and generally odd," was handicapped by a severe inferiority complex. Not even his election as junior class president helped overcome any shortcoming Dick felt from being overshadowed by his revered older brother.

Brad graduated from Davis High in 1943, and, as World War II raged, he applied and was selected for a coveted spot in the army air corp' pilot training program. The realities of war were overshadowed by what Brad saw as a golden opportunity to learn to fly at the government's expense, and he elatedly shared his good fortune with his thirteen-year-old brother. But Dick did not share Brad's enthusiasm. "I sat on the bed in the room we shared and I sulked," wrote Clark in his autobiography, Rock, Roll & Remember. "It was like he was deliberately deserting me."

By the time Dick entered Davis High in September 1943, Brad was flying P-47 fighter missions over Europe. Cowed by the school's labyrinth of corridors crowded with upperclassmen who appeared to be a million years older than they actually were, Dick Clark's greatest fear was about to be realized.

A few days after Christmas, 1944, the Clark family received the devastating news that Brad had been shot down and killed during the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. The death of the older brother he idolized has had a profound effect on Clark, who each year finds it more difficult to comprehend that Brad died before reaching the age of twenty-one. "My children are all older than this man I visualize as my big brother," he told Ralph Emery in 1992.

Debilitated by his grief, Clark embarked on a mad spree to become the equal of his dead brother. He headed for the football field where Brad had starred as a first-string tackle. But the 120-pound novice quickly discovered that aside from being a tackling dummy he was not much use to the team. He tried other sports at which Brad had excelled, but failed to make the swimming and track squads as well.

Frustrated by his athletic failure, Clark retreated to his bedroom, turned on the radio, and sought refuge in what he called "the disembodied fantasy world that came out of the speaker." He had recently discovered what he termed "the magic world of radio" when, at age thirteen, his parents took him to New York City to see a live broadcast of the Jimmy Durante--Garry Moore radio program. Captivated by the performances of the radio personalities as well as by the behind-the-scenes activity in the control room, Clark told his mother, "That's what I want to do."

Clark was able to break the shackles of insecurity through his participation in the high school drama club, which his parents encouraged him to join. Clark's dramatics teacher recalled that because of his emotional performance in the senior class play, "there wasn't a dry eye in the house." Clark gave serious thought to becoming an actor, but his father--who once harbored those same youthful aspirations--dissuaded his son from the pursuit of what he viewed as a capricious facet of show business.

By the time Clark was ready to graduate from high school, vestiges of his future were evident. He gave great consideration to the pursuit of a radio career, and was deemed by his premonitory peers to be "The Man Most Likely to Sell the Brooklyn Bridge."

In the spring of 1947, just prior to Clark's graduation from high school, his family moved from Mt. Vernon to Utica, a small city located in the rolling hills of central upstate New York. Clark's uncle Bradley Barnard lived nearby in the city of Rome, where he owned the local Sentinel newspaper and the ABC-affiliated, Utica-based radio station WRUN. Aware of his brother-in-law's sales and promotion savvy, Barnard asked Dick Clark's father if he was interested in making a career change.

After twenty-six years, Richard Augustus Clark and his wife had had enough of the cosmetics business rat race and longed to return to their upstate roots. In addition, the elder Clark, who was aware of Dick's interest in a radio career, realized that a move to WRUN would enhance his son's broadcasting opportunities. So it was that when Barnard offered his brother-in-law the opportunity to become the station's first promotional manager, Richard Clark accepted.

When it came time for Dick Clark to apply to college his first choice was Yale, but Clark's grades were not up to Ivy League snuff. Rejected by Yale, he opted for nearby Syracuse University, his father's alma mater.

With Bradley Barnard's approval, Richard Clark hired his son Dick as a summer replacement at WRUN, where the college-bound student worked in the mailroom, ran the office mimeograph machine, and longingly eyed the broadcasting microphone. Dick's initial broadcasting opportunity came when he was assigned to read hourly weather forecasts for a vacationing FM announcer. Although Clark admitted he was buried at WRUN, "about as deep as they could bury someone without experience," it was of little concern. He was on the air, and the following morning he rigged up a home antenna so his mother could hear his voice on the radio.

Clark entered Syracuse University in the fall of 1947 as an advertising major with a minor in radio. Although he was required to concentrate on his major area of study, Clark was not deterred from seeking out WEAR-FM, the campus radio station known as Radio House. After auditioning for Radio House student manager Jerry Landay, Clark joined the WEAR staff as a disc jockey and newscaster. But the would-be announcer was already looking beyond the microphone. In 1987 Clark revealed that he "never fully intended to make radio announcing a lifetime pursuit," and that as early as his WEAR days he was eyeing the business aspects of broadcasting.

Clark worked at the campus radio station during his four years at college, and in January 1951--during his last semester before graduation--he landed a weekend job at WOLF-AM (1490hz), a tiny 250-watt station in downtown Syracuse. In less than a month he was working a full forty-hour week at WOLF, in addition to completing his studies at Syracuse University. From WOLF's Onondaga Hotel studios Clark announced the news and hosted a show called The WOLF Buckaroos, on which he spun country records by the likes of Gene Autry, Eddie Arnold, and Roy Rogers. After graduating from Syracuse that May with a B.S. degree in business administration, Clark stayed on at WOLF, where he earned a dollar an hour.

It was the wish of Richard Clark, then the communications-sales manager at WRUN, that his son eventually succeed him in that position. That June, Dick Clark quit WOLF and returned to Utica and a summer replacement job at the station where his father worked, but the younger Clark, who had moved back in with his parents at their home, was no longer comfortable working in his father's shadow. It seemed that whatever he accomplished, someone stood ready to credit the feat to his father's influence. "I was working too hard to prove myself to get put down like that," said Clark.

Determined to make his own mark, Clark left WRUN in the fall of 1951. To punctuate his emergence from his father's shadow, he changed his name to "Dick Clay." Clark was certain the name change hurt both his parents, and he even confessed to his own dislike of the moniker. But he kept it.

With his new name, "Dick Clay" went looking for a new job. He auditioned for a newscasting position at Utica-Rome's WKTV, where he was hired by the general manager, who had come to know Clark's father. It was while Clark was employed at WKTV that he was taken aback by fellow newscaster Bob Earle, who, rather than rely on a hand-held script to deliver the news, stared directly into the camera and did the entire newscast--up to fifteen minutes at a stretch--as if he had it memorized. Unable to contain his curiosity, Clark asked Earle how he was able to manage the feat, and Earle shared with him the secret of "Elmer," his wire recorder.

As impressed as Clark was, he set out to one-up Bob Earle. After purchasing his own Webcor wire recorder Clark devised a system that incorporated a foot pedal, which enabled him to start and stop the tape whenever he chose and then move about freely in front of the TV cameras. When Clark was not working he spent many hours secreted away at WRUN's radio studio, where, out of sight of his WKTV colleagues, he practiced his tape-recorded delivery. WRUN's Al Cole recalled that after Clark began doing televised news commentary on WKTV, "Utica teenagers suddenly became very interested in current events."

Clark's chores at WKTV also included playing Cactus Dick, the host of the television station's country and western music show, Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders. Besides serving as the show's announcer, Clark did some singing. "Badly," he confessed to Ralph Emery in 1992. "They used to make fun of me."

Clark, who now earned $52.50 a week and was the proud owner of a 1941 Oldsmobile sedan, began to be courted by Syracuse's WHEN-TV. WKTV general manager Michael Fusco promptly upped Cactus Dick's salary to $75 a week, which kept his budding star from jumping to WHEN, but, salary increase or not, after less than a year, "Dick Clay" had grown too big for Utica. When he told his father he was ready to move on to a larger city, Richard Clark, knowing exactly who to contact, telephoned a colleague in Philadelphia whom he had befriended through ABC's executive channels. (WRUN was an ABC affiliate.) It was that call to WFIL's Roger Clipp that led to Dick Clark's audition with Jack Steck.

After Clark was hired by WFIL Steck offered him a summer replacement slot on the station's FM band, but not before the veteran program director, who envisioned the coming age of television, admonished the young announcer that he was crazy to even consider returning to radio--particularly FM radio, which was then considered a broadcasting graveyard. After his TV experience in Utica, Clark was not at all certain he wanted to return to radio. A job offer he had recently received from a television station in Schenectady, New York only served to complicate matters. But Schenectady was no larger than Utica, while Philadelphia was a major city where Clark knew he would attract more attention. Philadelphia was also closer to New York, an important consideration for a young man on the move who still considered himself a New Yorker. "After all," said Philadelphia's newest announcer as he bid farewell to Utica, "WFIL has a TV station, too."

Dick Clark may have glided into broadcasting on his father's coattails, but the innuendos that linked Clark's advancement to being the boss's son understandably rankled him. His initial broadcasting success was due at least as much to his considerable professional aplomb as it was to his father's broadcasting connections. Nevertheless, Clark was once again beholden to his father. But what mattered most to the young announcer was that he would now be heard in Philadelphia, a city whose three-and-one-half-million potential listeners--a far cry from Utica's one hundred thousand--made it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Clark began work at WFIL on May 13, 1952.

One of the country's oldest commercial broadcasters, WFIL was founded as WFI in 1922, became an affiliate of the fledgling American Broadcasting Company in 1943, and was purchased in 1945 by Triangle Publications Inc., a blossoming communications empire owned by Walter Annenberg, the wealthy son of a publishing magnate. In 1947 Annenberg established WFIL-TV, which was Philadelphia's first commercial TV station. WFIL-TV not only became ABC-TV's initial affiliate, it quickly developed into that network's key TV outlet outside New York City.

Forty-eight-year-old Roger W. Clipp, who ran WFIL for Walter Annenberg, was the quintessence of the obdurate organization man, and then some. After earning a degree from the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Business, Clipp had embarked upon a banking career cut short by the stock market crash of 1929. Clipp received his baptism into the backroom world of broadcasting via a stint as an NBC accountant before advancing to assistant manager of NBC's owned-and-operated stations. He became WFIL's business manager in 1935, after which he methodically climbed the station's executive ladder until he oversaw WFIL's entire operation as its general manager.

Clipp "was a very unreasonable, temperamental man ... very cruel and pretty vicious," said Jack Steck, who recalled the time a young announcer committed a mispronunciation gaffe on the air just before Christmas and was summarily dismissed by Clipp. Many on the WFIL staff grudgingly characterized Clipp as "a son-of-a-bitch, but our son-of-a-bitch," which, thought Steck, "was a pretty good description." But despite Steck's animosity towards Clipp, whose antics were "carefully shielded" from Walter Annenberg, Steck conceded that the station's general manager was a "great administrator ... [who] turned WFIL into a $210-million property for the boss."

* * *

During the summer of 1952, WFIL combined its center-city radio facilities with the station's TV operations, already housed in a warehouse-type structure at 46th and Market Streets in West Philadelphia. No one had the slightest inkling that the beige brick building situated in the shadows of the Market Street elevated railway would spawn the longest-running network television show in history and for a time enable Philadelphia to become the pop music capital of the world. By then, WFIL was one of over three hundred ABC-affiliated radio stations, but those numbers were illusory, for when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifted its four-year ban on the establishment of new TV stations that summer, network sponsors abandoned radio in favor of television. Local radio affiliates such as WFIL were thus forced to develop and expand their own radio programming in order to generate local advertising revenue. Since the most economical form of programming available to a radio station was a disc jockey with a stack of records, WFIL became one of hundreds of radio stations across America to fire their costly resident studio orchestras and embrace such a format. Due largely to such cost-cutting motives, the golden age of the disc jockey was about to begin.

As the summer drew to a close Roger Clipp and radio station manager George Koehler informed Dick Clark that WFIL was about to undergo a radical change in format and they wanted him to be a part of that change.

The decision was not surprising, considering that the hard-nosed executive Clipp, who Clark described as "respected and hated" and a "very difficult man" to work for, had hit it off instantly with his hard-driving young employee. "I found him to be intimidating," Clark revealed in 1994, "but I felt very close to him and he toward me." In fact, Clipp looked upon the recently hired Clark not as the son of a friend, but as the general manager's own son. "He took very good care of me and he didn't frighten me as badly as he frightened some of the other employees," explained Clark. Indeed, Clipp took such good care of Clark that he offered the young announcer a radio program of his own.

Dick Clark's Caravan of Music (weekdays from 1:45 to 6:00 P.M.) was added to WFIL's revamped radio line-up at a time when pop radio's biggest hits were sung by the likes of Patti Page, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, and South Philadelphia's own Eddie Fisher. But Clark was ordered to forgo even those insipid tunes (which were deemed too extreme for WFIL's conservative daytime format) in favor of easy listening standards.

At that point, it did not matter much to him what type of music he played on his new program. Clark was happy just to have the job, for he was now a married man. One month after joining WFIL's permanent staff he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara ("Bobbie") Mallery, a pretty, blue-eyed cheerleader at A.B. Davis High when she and Clark first met at a Halloween party. Although Barbara was dating Clark's best friend at the time, she soon realized that "Dick was the only boy for me." She and Clark quickly developed into a steady item, but Barbara's mother took a dim view of her fourteen-year-old daughter seeing only one boy. "She liked Dick," recalled Barbara, "but she insisted I was missing half my life, going with just one boy." Barbara and Dick actually broke up for a time, but after dating others they came to realize how much they truly cared for one another. In 1946--Dick's senior year in high school--the couple began to go steady again, and this time, recalled Clark, "we were sure of ourselves."

When Barbara graduated from high school in 1948, the Mallerys moved to Salisbury, Maryland, and Clark began to date other girls at Syracuse. But he preferred seeing Barbara, who was then enrolled at Salisbury State Teachers' College, which necessitated what Clark described as seventeen-hour "sheer suicide" motor trips in his heaterless '34 Ford convertible in the dead of winter.

After two years of this long-distance liaison Barbara transferred to Oswego (N.Y.) State Teachers' College--a mere thirty five-miles from Syracuse--for her junior year. The couple saw each other every weekend until June 28, 1952, when, shortly after Barbara's graduation, they married. After subletting a one-bedroom apartment in suburban Philadelphia, Barbara obtained a job teaching second grade in a nearby school and Clark set out to establish himself at WFIL. Clark would parlay this storybook romance into a vital component of the "All-American Boy" image he so deftly projected to his audience, but, unlike most storybook endings of that era, this one would not find the parties living together happily ever after.

* * *

In 1952, pop radio in Philadelphia was dominated by WPEN-AM (950) and WIP-AM (610), two stations that, not coincidentally, played a part in the genesis of American Bandstand. If any program can be designated the prototype for Dick Clark's legendary dance show, that distinction goes to WPEN's 950 Club, named for the station's location on the AM dial. Originated in 1945 and hosted by the popular duo of Joe Grady and Ed Hurst, the 950 Club was the first radio show on which a studio audience was invited to dance to records being broadcast over the air. The show, which saluted a different high school each day, quickly became the focus of the area's bobby-sox set, who, seeking admission, deluged WPEN with two to three thousand pieces of mail each week.

But the scores of teenagers drawn to the center city skyscraper that housed WPEN also stuffed mailboxes, rode the elevators, and "created a problem for the tenants of the building" as they ran wild, recalled Ed Hurst, who added that WPEN eventually "got kicked out of the building." The radio station found a new home in a nearby facility that contained a luncheonette in the front and a dance studio in the rear, an arrangement that pleased everyone. The 950 Club crowd could now munch on hoagies and hot dogs as Grady and Hurst spun the top hits of the day, interviewed celebrity guests, and occasionally allowed the teenage dancers to introduce themselves on the air and mention the high schools they attended. By the early 1950s it was the number one afternoon radio show in Philadelphia and was recognized as a "must" stop by performers making promotional swings through the area. Hurst and Grady interviewed all the top names in the record business.

The big gun at WIP was local favorite Bob Horn. Born in 1916 (d. 1966) in Cherry Run, West Virginia and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, Robert L. Horn attended the University of Michigan before beginning his broadcasting career in 1938 in Camden, New Jersey. He worked at WIP for a short time before venturing to California, where he put in a brief stint as a Hollywood newscaster. Horn returned to Philadelphia after World War II and landed a job at WPEN, where he developed an evening hour Bandstand show consisting of current top pop recordings. In 1951 Horn moved his highly popular Bandstand to rival WIP.

As Grady and Hurst cavorted over the airwaves with the Philadelphia area's teenage set, and Bob Horn drew large audiences to his radio Bandstand, WFIL radio remained a loser in the local ratings race. As such, the station began to eye Horn--considered about town to be the most knowledgable man on music of the day--to close the gap. "He had the highest rating," recalled Jack Steck, "and we decided to hire him."

Steck, who was then manager of programs and production for WFIL-TV, said Horn was "easy to get because he wanted to get out of radio and into television, and we were his opportunity." So fervently did the video fires burn within Horn that he jumped to WFIL even though there were no immediate television openings at the prestigious TV station. In joining WFIL, Horn reasoned that when such an opening did occur he would be there to grab it.

By far the hottest properties WFIL possessed, Horn and his radio Bandstand were assigned two shifts. But as he bided his time for a shot at TV, he was unaware that he had been snookered by his new employer. When the need for an afternoon TV show host arose at WFIL, Horn would be bypassed for none other than Joe Grady and Ed Hurst.

* * *

It was of no concern to Dick Clark that the music he was ordered to play on his WFIL radio program was not current and was certainly not aimed at Philadelphia's "950 Club" crowd. The music be damned. Besides hosting his daily radio program, Clark was afforded the opportunity to work as a commercial announcer on WFIL-TV. In addition to Clark's base pay as a disc jockey he received a fee for each TV commercial he read on the air. Radiating an aura of equanimity, the boyishly handsome Clark set out to do as many of them as humanly possible. "I was a great pitchman," he said. "I sold pots and pans, vacuum cleaners, diamond rings, Mrs. Smiths pies, the works. Eventually I landed the Schaefer Beer account. I did one hell of a beer spot." Clark later revealed in his 1976 autobiography that, "It was the commercials that kept me on the air."

Those close to Clark from childhood were not surprised at how quickly he recognized the lucrative financial opportunities commercial announcing afforded, for Clark had demonstrated a relentless proclivity for entrepreneurship as a youth. The motivation for the boy businessman apparently had had little, if anything, to do with the trappings that money could buy, however, and much to do with the inherent satisfaction of generating his own cash. Not content to draw freely from the family money dish Clark's mother kept in a bureau drawer, Dickie had opted to earn his own money.

As a boy, Clark did not have neighborhood friends so much as he had customers. His activities included publishing a neighborhood gossip sheet and peddling it for two cents an issue; running a "restaurant" in his family's home (when the family peanut butter supply ran out, Clark scoured the kitchen cabinets for old magazines and gum, which he proceded to sell); and operating a shoeshine stand where customers could have one shoe shined for three cents or both for a nickel.

Julia Clark said her son was also a compulsive collector who saved "everything not worth saving." She would periodically clean out his room only to find the same trash reappear, along with "whatever treasures the neighbors had thrown away." But what Clark's mother saw as trash her younger son viewed as valuable merchandise. He held a backyard carnival and used his cache of castoffs as prizes.

As Clark matured, his propensity to earn money grew stronger. One reporter wrote that Clark made himself "eminently hirable" while at Syracuse University, washing dishes in a hashhouse, husking corn, crating chickens, making frat house beds, and trying his hand as a door-to-door brush salesman. "He's always been that way," Julia Clark told a reporter in 1958. "He's always busy."

Indeed, once Clark managed to gain a national television audience of millions and set out to create his own pop music empire, his seemingly innate entrepreneurial drive would serve him well.

* * *

Dick Clark and Bob Horn gave each other a wide berth at WFIL. The fact that Clark, with his fresh, photogenic face, had quickly become one of Philadelphia's busiest commercial announcers particularly rankled the veteran Horn, who coveted a television career of his own. Clark, on the other hand, was solely intent on blazing his own trail and paid Horn no mind.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 15, 2008

    The Best Book On Bandstand

    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. <BR/>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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    Good Book

    I bought this book for a report I did on 'American Bandstand in the 1950's', and this book was great. Not many photos, but lots of information. I recommend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)