You can talk about the Beatles and Ed Sullivan, but most American music fans can trace their love affair with the big beat in a direct line to Dick Clark and American Bandstand, which spent 32 years on network television after bowing as a local Philadelphia TV show in 1952.
Although Bandstand left the air in 1989 as a weekly show, its legend lives on , and thankfully, there’s no need to hit the viewer over the head with the show’s importance.
While it would have been easy for Clark to get overly sappy and sentimental about his own importance during his broadcast anniversary, the ever-graceful host manages to get across an idea of the show’s impact on the music scene without letting the spotlight shine too brightly on himself.
Performances by Alabama, Boyz II Men, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Don McLean and Luther Vandross highlight the musical selections, but the real bang comes at the end of the show , when an all-star band successfully brings off a jamming version of “Bo Diddley ,” led by the song’s title character.
Rest of the show offers videotape nostalgia of the best kind, including an explanation by artist Barry Manilow of how the show’s familiar instrumental theme finally got some lyrics.