American Bandstand, one of the longest-running shows in television history, spotlighted well-scrubbed, properly dressed dancing teenagers on every show. They mirrored the show’s perpetually youthful host, Dick Clark, who spun the music Clark often described as the “soundtrack to our lives.”
These are the memories Clark carefully nurtured as he crafted the alternate teen universe of Bandstandland during the formative years of American Bandstand, from 1952 to 1964. Bandstandland was a mythical creation by Clark, who saw the show as a springboard to immense wealth rather than a tribute to teen culture.
Clark was a relentless businessman who once had ownership stakes in 33 corporations, most created by him. He created rules to keep black teens off the show, promoted the teens that danced on the show when it served his purposes and banned them when it didn’t and effectively turned American Bandstand into his own personal infomercial.
Bandstandland sheds light on the little-known backstory of the TV program that was America’s top-rated daytime television show in its heyday and enjoyed a 37-year run from 1952 to 1989.
Larry Lehmer was a newspaper reporter and editor for 40 years, including 24 years at The Des Moines Register. During his time as a senior editor at The Register, the paper was named one of the country’s top 10 newspapers by Time magazine. During his newspaper career, Lehmer was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors. He is a graduate of the American Press Institute in Washington, D.C., and a former member of the Association of Personal Historians.
Lehmer is also the author of The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, which was nominated for the 1997 Gleason Music Book Award. As a result of that book’s success, Lehmer worked with the E! cable television network in producing an episode of its Mysteries and Scandals series, was a contributor to a VH1 documentary on Buddy Holly and was a featured subject on the ID-Discovery Channel’s The Will: Family Secrets Revealed program on Ritchie Valens.
He lives in Urbandale, Iowa, with his wife, Linda.
This is a very complete story of the American Bandstand years, which were magical to those of us of a certain age. The book covers all the seediness behind the show, and of the greed of the prime movers, including Dick Clark himself.
I enjoyed the innocence and fun of learning the dances on our linoleum floor at home. And teaching a younger cousin to rock and roll in our grandparents’ basement, where was where we cousins ended up during clan get-togethers. I’d forgotten until he reminded me. One wall in next to our bopping was lined with jars of Grandma’s home-canned fruits and vegetables.