Sony Anatomy: Barry Manilow’s “American Bandstand” Theme Song
For those of who grew up waiting for our weekly editions of Soul Train and American Bandstand every Saturday morning, today’s passing of Dick Clark follows the death of Don Cornelius as one more chapter closed in the great big book of popular music.
Left behind, with the many video clips that can be found around the internet, is one of the great TV music show themes of all time: “Bandstand Boogie.” Here’s the story of how it evolved from jazz classic to Barry Manilow standard.
In the very earliest years of American Bandstand, which began in Philadelphia in 1952, the show’s opening number was a jazz tune chosen by original host Bob Horn: Artie Shaw’s “High Society.”
By the time Horn departed and Clark arrived in 1956, Les Elgart’s recording of Charles Albertine’s “Bandstand Boogie” was the show’s opening number, a position it held as the show evolved from airing live on weekday afternoons to a being pre-recorded for Saturday mornings.
As the show approached its 20th anniversary, Mike Curb was called on to write “Bandstand Theme,” a faddish bit of synthesized noodling that spent a few years at the top of the show. With the arrival of disco in 1974, a return to the original “Bandstand Boogie,” albeit with plenty of hi-hats on the off-beat, made a five year run before Clark commissioned Manilow’s most memorable version.
It was in 1977, almost thirty years into its history that Barry version of “Bandstand Boogie” became the show’s theme. With name-dropping lyrics written by Manilow and Bruce Sussman, the last version of “Bandstand Boogie” spent 10 years on the top of the Bandstand chart, remaining the show’s opening theme until the show closed up shop in 1987.
Here’s the original Elgart version followed by Barry’s boogie.
— Michael Verity