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Urban Archeologist: It’s Only Rock & Roll, But I Found It

Greg makes a discovery of Rock & Roll history, and finds a renewed appreciation for the founder of youth culture in the 1950s.

I notice each weekend I am out hunting that a theme will emerge. Maybe the sellers were into art or sports or one of the many hundreds of pastimes we enjoy that make life worth living. The things we leave behind are sometimes the pinnacle points of those experiences — the things that spark the sharpest memory.

This weekend the theme was “music.”

I can only imagine was it was like to be a teen growing up in the 1950s, but from this weekend’s “finds” Dick Clark and American Bandstand were likely a big part of it for many. This “Yearbook” from the show provides a glossy hi-grade walkthrough of the 1958-59 production year of this daily show. It is so well produced (likely under the direction of the master, himself) that when I first picked it up, I thought it was recently published as homage to the man after passing in 2012.

A little research and I find that Dick Clark deserves great recognition for what he did to promote “Rock & Roll” in the 1950s. At a time when the music was hated by parents, the establishment and many popular adult contemporary musicians, Dick Clark broke color barriers and the negative stigma of the “devil’s music” to entertain millions of teenagers across the country.

With over 10,000 live performances Bandstand was the longest running variety show when it ended its run in the 1980s. Many entrants in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame attribute Dick Clark to giving them their debut when there was no other outlet for them to reach a wide audience.

Dick Clark claims that all he did was, “play records, the kids danced, and America watched.” Others disagree and claim that Dick Clark essentially created youth culture at a time when none had existed. His charisma and boyish looks that dubbed him “America’s oldest teenager” helped ease parents’ concerns over the negative impressions and his weekday and Saturday evening shows were viewed by as many as 50 million at the program’s peak. 

There was more music at this sale. Tucked in a corner was a small sheet music holder that you might use in a school band. In it were numerous selections to be played by a marching band probably during the big game. Some indication of the origin of these was one hand-written sheet of music titled “Stratford Alma Mater.”

Take a look at this third and final “find” of this well-known folk-music trio and tell me if the autographs are authentic. I was only looking for a story, but what I got was more than just history, I got an education and renewed appreciation for music.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story.  You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

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