How American Bandstand Gave Music a Beat

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Before there was Carson Daly and MTV’s TRL, America’s youth were entranced by the afternoon musical guests and dance competition contestants of American Bandstand. Hosted by TV and radio personality Dick Clark, American Bandstand changed the format of television’s relationship with music and youth culture. The afternoon broadcast was youth culture—it popularized dance moves such as the twist, which was, at the time, seen as vulgar by the older generations. American Bandstand was also known for promoting black artists, while also integrating black and white teens in this audience during the height of the segregationist movement. For many of the kids watching at home, this would be the first time seeing interracial socializing on television, or, for some, at all. As a musical program, the show would be the springboard for a number of music acts that are now considered household names. Prince, Michael Jackson, and Aerosmith made their television debuts on American Bandstand—the beginnings of long and fruitful careers. To celebrate the anniversary of its network television debut, CR looks back at some of the most memorable moments in American Bandstand history.

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