Category Archives: american bandstand

Donna Summer 1948-2012

We’ve lost far too many folks this year already, and this morning, we lost the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, this morning after a private battle with cancer. She was 63.

The multi-award-winning singer, also known for her stage, television and film work, came to prominence in the disco era, becoming the so-called queen of the genre. Her songs were the anthem of a generation. Songs like “Last Dance,” “I Feel Love,” “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” and “Love to Love You Baby” are the stuff of musical legend.

In my early teens at the height of her rein I remember listening to my brother’s 8-track of her greatest hits “On the Radio,” and still have favorites from that album. I also remember Dick Clark, another recent loss, letting her host an episode of “American Bandstand. I remember hearing about her character and subplot in Thank God It’s Friday even though I wasn’t allowed to see that flick in the theater. I also remember her comeback in the music video age with “She Works Hard for the Money.”

Summer continued to perform until recently, despite being out of the public eye in America, she always charted in Europe over the years and toured frequently. The last time I saw her was when she performed with Prince Poppycock on “America’s Got Talent” a couple years ago. She was just as fabulous as she had been in the seventies.

We have lost another legend. Donna Summer will be missed.

Dick Clark 1929-2012

We have lost another legend today. Media mogul, television entertainer, TV producer, game show host, disc jockey, and just all around nice guy Dick Clark passed away in surgery today after suffering a massive heart attack. America’s oldest teenager has passed away.

I never missed “American Bandstand,” from before I can remember to probably past my college days when it ended, I watched every week. I was a music addict, took my radio everywhere, and in a pre-internet world, “American Bandstand” was the place where the current artists, the new acts, and the about-to-happen phenoms appeared. Everyone was on “Bandstand,” and everyone was interviewed, if only briefly, by Dick Clark. If you made it to the show, you knew you had made it.

Now “Bandstand” was a gigantic part of his career, it wasn’t everything the man had going on. He was a prolific television producer, creating shows like the “Pyramid” game shows, “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” “The American Music Awards” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” the last of which has become an American tradition. For decades Clark braved the cold to watch the ball drop, and more recently, after his stroke, America tuned in to see him just make an appearance, just to see how he was. Yeah, we, as a nation, cared how this man was doing. That says a lot.

Clark created and produced numerous TV programs including various game shows, talk shows and even prime time drams. He owned a chain of restaurants and theatresHe was also a disc jockey here in Philadelphia before “Bandstand” came along, which was also born in Philly. As I said, we have lost a legend today, Dick Clark will be missed.

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Don Cornelius 1936-2012

Don Cornelius was found dead this morning by police, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The creator and first host of the long-running “Soul Train” will be missed.

Now you’re probably asking yourself what this white boy from the suburbs knows about Don Cornelius or “Soul Train,” well, I’ll tell you – a lot. As a kid, and even now as an adult, I am always looking for new music. The AOR semi-metal and bubble gum pop everyone else listened to in high school got old quick for me (I’ve talked about this before here), so I looked elsewhere. I traveled the radio dial, and I watched all the music shows, including Don’s famous train, that I first encountered on UHF channel 48.

“Soul Train” was different. It was a dance show, yeah, but it had more of an edge to it than “American Bandstand,” “The Music Thing” (does anyone else remember that?) or the much later “Dancin’ On Air.” I was on the Train when I was really young, pre-disco, and I trusted The Don to introduce me to new acts and new types of music. Soul, R & B, and Urban Contemporary (if we must use labels) all flowed into my head like wonderful ear candy. And even though Don was slow to let the rappers on stage, when the gates opened, he brought on all the greats. His distaste for the new sound never showed on the mike, he was always professional.

Don was The Man, and I mean The Man in the best way possible. He saw a television market without a musical outlet for his people and their music, so he created it. He opened up a whole new world for everyone with “Soul Train,” even dumb white boys from the suburbs. Thanks, Don.

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Robert Hazard 1948-2008

Philadelphia hometown hero and musician Robert Hazard passed away yesterday due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He would have been 60 later this month. The singer/songwriter will be greatly missed. In the 1980s he epitomized the Philadelphia music scene, ruling South Street at the Ripley Dance Club.

He became nationally known as the writer of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and also with his own ‘new wave’ one-hit wonder, “Escalator of Life.” It may have been a one-hit wonder for the rest of the world but folks in Philly had been hearing his music for years. His first EP, named after himself and his band, the Heroes, featured radio staples like “Change Reaction,” “Hang Around with You” and “Out of the Blue,” but these were all songs we all knew for years listening to WMMR and WYSP.