Watch 6 classic American Bandstand performances of Philly bands, and a very young Jerry Blavat with Dick Clark
For 40 years and over 30 seasons, the television show American Bandstand was an important pop culture phenomenon, and it all started in Philly.
Launched in 1950 at WFIL, the show was hosted by Bob Horn until Dick Clark took over as the host in 1956. Hidden City Philadelphia offers this historical account:
American Bandstand began as a radio program in Philadelphia in the late 1940s, hosted by local music impresario Bob Horn. It made its debut as a TV show on WFIL-TV in October 1952, airing in the Philadelphia area only. In 1956 Horn was replaced by WFIL’s young, ambitious radio and TV announcer Dick Clark after being convicted of driving drunk, and acquitted of statutory rape charges. Clark took Bandstand national in 1957 and built it into America’s most popular and influential outlet for teen music and dancing. Anchored by Bandstand, Philadelphia became the epicenter of the pop music industry in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A number of record labels, recording studios, and distribution companies sprang up in the city, giving rise to a vibrant local music scene. Chief among the record labels was Cameo-Parkway, the nation’s most successful independent record company at that time. With artists such as Charlie Gracie, Bobby Rydell, the Dovells, the Orlons, Dee Dee Sharp, and Chubby Checker, Cameo Parkway had a long string of hit records in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Other local labels such as Chancellor and Swan also enjoyed success with local talent in this period.
While American Bandstand moved from Philly to Los Angeles in 1964, over the years, thousands of performers launched their careers on the show, and to this day it’s legacy remains an important part of Philly music history.
Below, check out some videos of Philly performers on American Bandstand. Be sure you watch the last video featuring Dick Clark interviewing Jerry Blavat, who got his start as a dancer on the show.
Watch a very young Jerry Blavat on American Bandstand