I squandered many a half hour sitting on the floor, watching Dick Clark’s various late afternoon TV shows on our big console black and white TV — first “American Bandstand,” imitating my older brother’s interest, and later, when I was a more active music consumer myself, “Where the Action Is” in the late ’60s.
Funnily enough, despite the coverage of the last few days, it wasn’t Motown acts that I remember most from the show.
Marvin Gaye was never on that I can recall, nor were the Four Tops or Tempts. (The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Miracles, Jackson 5 and Rick James certainly were).
But well before Motown’s hitmaking era (1964 on), a veritable laundry list of pre-Motown Detroit acts racked up many appearances on Clark’s shows. Hazel Park’s own Jack Scott probably appeared the most on Clark’s shows, including his nighttime Beech-Nut show, doing hit songs like “My True Love” and “What in the World,” and the clip you see online most often of the north end’s own Jackie Wilson doing “Lonely Teardrops”(written by Mr. Gordy), including a jump down into knee-cracking splits, is from either “Bandstand” or the Beech-Nut show. Other Detroit acts who benefited from exposure on Clark’s TV shows: the Royaltones (that’s George Katsakis on the talking sax), Little Willie John, Nathaniel Mayer, Johnny and the Hurricanes and Del Shannon (OK, Shannon was from western Michigan but his manager, Harry Balk, was based in Detroit, and musitron maestro Max Crook still lives here).
Clark sold Dick Clark Productions, which licenses clips from “Bandstand” and his other old shows, a few years back, and here’s hoping we see more videos from the old tapes we’re not entirely convinced burned up in a mysterious warehouse fire.