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I Played On 'American Bandstand'

Dick Clark.
Getty Images
Dick Clark.

I was about eight years old, in 1957, when I discovered American Bandstand. I used to ride the back of the couch in our family den, pretending it was a horse, as I'd watch the Warner Brothers westerns on TV. Then, through Bandstand, I discovered rock 'n' roll and abandoned my cowboy aspirations in favor of rock music. The images and sounds were hypnotic — and in the center of it all was Dick Clark, the affable host, whose warm welcome into this mysterious and exotic world was friendly and approving.

I started playing guitar at age nine and writing songs at age 13. I left home on the East Coast for Los Angeles as a teenager, and soon fell in with musicians and artists there, joining the group The Millennium in the late '60s. We did an expensive album for Columbia Records that is collectible among Sunshine Pop enthusiasts today. My next group was Crabby Appleton, for whom I sang, wrote and played guitar. We'd only been together for a short time when our single "Go Back" on Elektra Records started climbing up the charts.

Next thing we knew, we were booked on American Bandstand. Meeting Dick Clark was surreal. He was shorter than I'd imagined, but he was Dick Clark! Of American Bandstand! We knew we'd be lip-syncing two songs — that's how they did TV appearances back then — and our equipment was set up so we could play along as the recordings were broadcast over the studio speakers. We were introduced to Dick prior to the show, but were not briefed on what he'd ask us during the interview he conducted in between the our two songs. We stammered and fidgeted, petrified with unpreparedness. Dick was charming, nonetheless.

The band watched the TV show in a hotel room somewhere when it aired. I remember thinking, "My mom is going to tell me to pull my hair away from covering my face." When I next spoke to my mom, she told me that she and my dad and my younger sister had watched the show. She said I should pull my hair away from covering my face.

As I watch Dick Clark's introduction of our band today, I'm still struck by Dick's air of enthusiasm for the band. It seems genuine. How many bands had he introduced, thusly?

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Michael Fennelly
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