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Four Unique Moments From Dick Clark's "American Bandstand"

Marshall Fish is a remote trivia writer for Hasbro, Screenlife Games, and other pop culture websites.

Dick Clark, 1990

Dick Clark, 1990

Broadcasting icon Dick Clark produced a variety of programs during his illustrious career. These programs include New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the American Music Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes, and the drama series American Dreams.

However, he was best known for his 32 years as the host of ABC's American Bandstand. Here are four unique pop culture moments from the series.

1) The YMCA Dance: January 6, 1979

Countless weddings, bar mitzvahs, and party receptions over the last several decades have featured participants doing the YMCA dance. How many of us haven’t formed the letters Y, M, C, and A with our arms to the chorus of Village People’s disco hit? The world got its first glimpse of the dance courtesy of the group’s 1979 Bandstand appearance. Each time the song got to the chorus (“It’s fun to stay at the YMCA”), the studio audience/dancers were shown doing the dance. Village People themselves, including lead singer Victor Willis, had never seen the YMCA dance until this television appearance.

2) Reactions to The Beatles' New Look: March 11, 1967

1967 was the year the Fab Four released their landmark Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were initially recorded for the album, but they ended up being released as a double A side vinyl single four months before Sgt. Pepper’s arrival in the record shops. To go along with the songs, Peter Goldman directed promo films (music videos) for both tunes. These films gave the world their first glimpse of the new psychedelic-influenced Beatles. Gone was the mop top image of the band, it was replaced by the group now sporting mustaches and attired in brightly colored clothes. John Lennon was now wearing his wire rimmed granny glasses.

The two films were shown to the dancers/audience during a March 1967 Bandstand broadcast. Clark then asked the audience how they felt about the two films. Most commented on how the band members now looked. Responses included, “They look older," "It ruins their image,” “Their mustaches are weird,” and “They look like somebody’s grandfather.” As for the films themselves, the reaction from the American Bandstand participants was definitely mixed. Later that year, Sgt. Pepper would be released and the “Summer of Love” began.

3) Public Image Limited’s "American Bandstand" Appearance: March 17, 1980

It was no secret that the performers lip-synched their vocals on American Bandstand. But ex-Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) took it to the extreme when he and his group, Public Image Limited, appeared on the program. During a performance of “Poptones,” Lydon barely even attempted to lip synch. Instead, he ended up strolling through the audience, mugged for the camera, and pulled and pushed the audience back onto the dance floor. All this took place as the group was supposed to appear like they were playing the song. A funny moment came following the performance when Clark asked the band to introduce themselves. Bass guitarist Jah Wobble said, “Jah Wobble. The Jah Wobble.” Clark replied, “Wobble, nice to have you here.” For the second song, “Careering,” Lydon gave up the idea of lip-synching entirely and walked among the dancers on the floor. He talked to some of them and even put some drops into his nose on camera. Lydon and PIL never made a return appearance on Bandstand.

4) Madonna's First “Bandstand“ Appearance: January 14, 1984

In one of her first major US TV appearances, Madonna lip synched on Bandstand to “Holiday.” She was dressed in all black with her belly button showing. This was nearly 20 years after censors wouldn't allow Barbara Eden's navel to be shown on I Dream of Jeannie. But what’s really interesting was Clark’s interview with the future “Material Girl.” She explained that she got her start as a background singer/dancer for Patrick Hernandez (of 1979’s “Born to be Alive” hit) and was a “Fame School dropout.” The best part came at the end of the brief chat as Clark asked Madonna, “What do you hope will happen for the rest of your professional life? What are your dreams? What’s left”. Madonna replied, “To rule the world.”

Comments

Marshall Fish (author) on April 18, 2012:

Thanks Spartacus. The PIL segment is really classic TV.

Dick Clark was a true icon, and will be missed.

Marshall

CJ Baker from Parts Unknown on April 18, 2012:

Great Hub! That PIL video clip was absolutely hysterical.

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