American Bandstand Nostalgia

Those of us who became teenagers in the late 1950s and early 1960s went from being fans of Mickey Mouse Club on black and white TV to watching American Bandstand and learning to Rock and Roll. Mickey Mouse Club was aired from 1955 to 1959.


American Bandstand with Dick Clark was televised nationally for the first time in 1957. An unknown record could become a hit overnight by being featured on the show. Several performers made their TV debut on Bandstand, such as Paul Anka, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Mathis, Chuck Berry, Bobby Darin. We became acquainted with the music of Frankie Avalon, Jimmie Rodgers, Marvin Rainwater, and Patti Page.

And the after-school program was how a lot of us Iowa teenagers learned to dance Rock and Roll.



I might have rued not having carpet in our “American foursquare” farmhouse, but linoleum floors sure made it easier to try out the stroll and do the twist

Here are a few songs that bring back those old Rock and Roll days when school dances–and even our proms–were held in the decorated lunch room of the Earlham Community School.

1956  Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley I wasn’t much of an Elvis fan but did enjoy dancing to the beat of some of his records.

Here are some more memorable ones:

1957  That’ll Be the Day by Buddy Holly

1957  Big Beat by Fats Domino

1957  At the Hop by Danny and the Juniors

Cousin Ken Shepherd says I taught him to dance Rock and Roll in Grandpa and Grandma Neal’s basement–to a record of “Jingle Bell Rock.” We girl cousins would have washed and dried the dishes first, after the clan Christmas feast. And we would have danced on the basement’s cement floor–right alongside shelves full of jars of green beans and tomatoes that Grandma had canned, and her outdoor plants brought in for winter. Remember that huge cactus she kept alive for decades?

1959 Lonely Boy by Paul Anka

1960 The Twist by Chubby Checker

1960 All I Have to Do is Dream by the Everly Brothers, who were from Iowa 

1961 Rubber Ball by Bobby Vee 

My husband and I used to go to the Iowa State Fair, staying on into the evening to get in on the Rock and Roll bands on the free stages. Bobby Vee was an entertainer who performed for years. Our son was with us once and was amazed to watch us sing along with some of the lyrics. He said he couldn’t imagine his generation being as nostalgic about their “music” as ours was.

I guess we still are.

Any old Rock and Roll fans out there?


  1. YES I am one! Elvis was a great favourite of mine, but I remember all the songs you mention. This is a nostalgic look back.

  2. Ah, Dick Clark, the man who refused to age!! One dance you didn’t see on “Bandstand” was the “Fish” – I guess they thought it too sexy at the time.

  3. I came a little later, but I do love my rock classics from the late 60s and the 70s. I remember Dick Clark’s show, and we listened to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every week.

  4. Joy, I am glad to hear that you were doing the same in Iowa as we were doing in California. To the same songs too. We still listen to some of the oldies along with some new ones.

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