Television The Pop Industry And The Hollywood Musical

John Mundy

Though the enormous box-office success of 20th Century-Fox's The Sound of Music (1965) may have suggested otherwise, by the early 1960s the era of the so-called classical integrated large budget musical was largely over. This is not to suggest, as many have, that the musical genre ceased to have significance. On the contrary, musicals that essentially replicated the revue formula characteristic of the genre's beginnings in the late 1920s formed an important, if low budget, staple item for both the British and US film industries throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Like early revue musicals, such as William Fox's Movietone Follies of 1929 and MGM's Hollywood Revue of 1929, these films were concerned to exploit the popularity of entertainers and artists whose success had been constructed through other media sites. In the 1920s, that success had been built largely on Broadway, the West End or in vaudeville and the music hall. In the late 1950s and 1960s, musical films, now largely made for a younger, segmented market, reflected the growth in importance of the popular music industry and attempted to exploit the success of popular music recording artists. Often rushed into production, lacking in storyline and acting performances of any real merit, the appeal of such films centred around the visual presentation of artists who were currently enjoying success in the popular music charts and who were being marketed energetically in promotional and fan-based magazines.

Though there was nothing new in this relationship between different sectors of the entertainment industry, in the 1950s and 1960s the role both of the record industry and of television as influences on film production became increasingly significant. While perhaps lacking the intensity with which contemporary cultural products are marketed, the alliances forged between the film, television and popular music industries attempted to exploit to the full commodities and fashions whose ephemerality was assumed. Following the success of The Blackboard Jungle (1955), films such as The Big Beat (1957), Girl's Town (1959) or Go Johnny Go (1958) attempted to exploit, promote and sustain the appeal of record stars as diverse as the Del Vikings, Paul Anka and Chuck Berry, and at the same time helped restore some of the film industry's market share among an increasingly affluent teenage audience that had been turning its back on Hollywood product in the mid 1950s.

A significant enabling factor in this trend was the growing influence of independent production companies, both within the US film industry and the record industry. In these industries, the exploitation of the independents' entrepreneurial responsiveness to the teenage market was used by the majors to reduce risk at a time when it must have appeared to them that the established rule-book for success had been suddenly thrown away. At the same time and in a similar way, the emerging power of the television networks in the US was to an extent dependent on successes developed in local television.

However, as this chapter, which forms a case study centred around the dance craze of the twist, attempts to illustrate, the successful promotion of cultural products across a range of media sites often depended on complex negotiations not only with powerful ideological and institutional forces, but with the aspirations, ambitions and alliances of determined, often opportunistic, individuals working within media organisations. Yet ironically, despite the apparent transparency of both film and television, none of this is visible to those who watch. In the act of showing, so much is not disclosed; in making visible, so much remains invisible. Despite the fact that these films often make self-reflexive use of a show business background, the last thing they do is to show the business behind the product. The four feature-length films that articulated and contributed to the twist craze, Twist Around The Clock (1961), Don't Knock The Twist (1962), Twist All Night (1962) and Hey Let's Twist (1962), as well as Richard Lester's It's Trad, Dad (1962) which featured a sequence with Chubby Checker, need to be understood not as isolated texts or events, but as elements in a complex and interdependent process of cultural production and consumption which remain hidden from view.

For a few brief years in the early 1960s, Britain and the United States experienced a cultural convulsion centred around the music and dance craze 'the twist'. At its peak in 1961 and 1962, the craze dominated all aspects of popular cultural life. In those two years, nineteen twist records reached the US Top 40 and fourteen featured in the British charts.1 A host of other twist singles were released and a rash of twist albums went on sale, including the unlikely 'Twistin' The World Around' from Berry Gordy's Motown label. In addition to the four

Figure 2 Promoting a craze: The US poster for Twist Around the Clock.

feature-length twist films distributed by the major studios, a host of film shorts attempted to instruct people how to do the dance. The twist dominated what music shows there were on television and made it on to programmes as diverse as 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', 'The Flintstones' and, in Britain, the BBC's 'Television Dancing Club' hosted by aging bandleader Victor Sylvester. Dance clubs such as the shabby Peppermint Lounge in New York attracted socialites infatuated by the twist. Endorsed by the stuffy but prestigious Arthur Murray School of Dance, the twist briefly colonised commercial and domestic cultural spaces in ways that were hard to ignore.

One of the most significant aspects of the twist craze was its broad appeal to a range of socio-cultural groups normally characterised by their structural distinctions. At its height, the phenomenon constructed a chimeric community resonant of those images of sustainable utopias which mark the classical Hollywood musical. Everybody it seemed, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, male and female, was doing the twist. Clearly, whatever complex pleasures it delivered, the phenomenon was far from being what Hebdige termed the subcultural 'noise', or a 'mechanism of semantic disorder' which characterised rock 'n' roll briefly some six or seven years earlier.2 On the contrary, the twist craze illustrates those powerful but complex processes by which the mainstream commercial interests in the entertainment industry attempt to drive popular cultural production and consumption. This involved, as far as both film and television were concerned, a quite specific construction of the contribution of black artists to popular music culture which carefully negotiated its way around the dominant racial discourse of the mid-century US.

Simply to assert the power of commercial determinants in the construction of popular culture and its consumption is, however, to ignore the intricate, sinewy and often shadowy ways in which the business of entertainment works. In particular, it fails to recognise the lubricity which can characterise individual contributions within and between business organisations and activities. In looking at the cultural phenomenon which centred around the twist and at the business interests and activities of Dick Clark, host of the US networked television show American Bandstand, who played a central role in the promotion of Chubby Checker and his recording of 'The Twist', this chapter examines not just the commercial synergies that existed between the radio, television, film and popular music industries in the late 1950s and early 1960s but, significantly, ways in which these alliances were strengthened and articulated through the exploitation of positions of personal power within influential media organisations. The essential paradox between, on the one hand, the seeming transparency of television as a medium of shows such as the enormously popular youth-orientated American Bandstand and, on the other, the invisibility of business networks and deals and the opacity of audience and consumer understanding of the importance of these, is something that may have significance as we inhabit what is being heralded as a new web-based information, communication and entertainment age.

In the late 1940s, the record industry in the United States was enjoying an unprecedented sales boom, fuelled in part by the growth in the number of independent radio stations able to play a greater variety of popular music, including rhythm and blues and country music.3 The extent to which this boom depended on radio broadcasting and on the 'top 40' format was evident in the formation in 1947 of the National Association of Disk Jockeys. It rapidly became common practice for record companies to plug their product by sending disc jockeys free copies of records. Song plugging had, of course, been commonplace in the music industry in the 1920s and 1930s when sales of sheet music predominated. However, the power of broadcasters to promote product was readily acknowledged by the record companies and was to become the centre of concern about commercial probity in the late 1950s.

While the powerful alliance between radio and the record industry was firmly established at the beginning of the 1950s, television was, initially, another matter. Though most conventional histories of television in the United States emphasise the hegemonic power of the networks, this tends to underplay the formative role of local, regional and non-network television in the early 1950s. As Mark Williams reminds us, 'Every network and non-network television station was necessarily a local station. Local stations negotiated the role TV would play in their communities, coordinating the new medium to local rhythms, interests, sentiments and ideologies.'4 Although the development of network television was facilitated by the opening of the coaxial cable link across the United States in November 1951, local television companies remained important, not least because they were initially quicker to show profit than the networks were. As Russell and David Sanjek point out, a single independent television station such as WBKB-TV in Chicago was making as much profit in 1952 as the entire NBC and CBS networks were that year.5 The importance of the complex relationships between local television stations and the networks is evident in what became the celebrated television show American Bandstand, which was first transmitted in September 1952.

Bandstand was originally a radio show broadcast by Philadelphia's WIP-AM station and hosted by Bob Horn, who moved with the show to rival station WFIL in 1951. Founded in 1922, WFIL was purchased in 1945 by Triangle Publications Inc., owned by Walter Annenberg and publishers of, among other things, the Philadelphia Inquirer, TV Guide and of Teenager, which it launched in 1944. In 1947, WFIL-TV became the city's first commercial television station and one of the first local stations to affiliate to the fledgling ABC-TV network. Philadelphia was a city of nearly four million people and already had a reputation as an important centre for popular music. This was reflected not only in the number of independent record labels operating in the city, but in the popularity of radio pop shows such as WPEN's 950 Club.

Like 950 Club, Bandstand emphasised its local connections by featuring teenage dancers from Philadelphia high schools, though it excluded black teenagers. The show proved successful immediately. In 1953, the impact on young people in Philadelphia was evident not just in the show's ratings, but in the queues of would-be studio dancers which besieged the WFIL-TV building and in the 12,000 fans who attended the Bandstand picnic in Philadelphia's Woodside Park that summer.6 Bob Horn's success as the front man for Bandstand was perhaps always threatened by his untelegenic looks, but it was ultimately his appearance on vice and drunken driving charges in 1956 that made his removal inevitable and he was replaced in July that year by 26-year-old Dick Clark, who had been hosting WFIL's musically staid Caravan of Music radio programme. In the context of widespread condemnation of the new youth-orientated rock 'n' roll, much of it racist in tone and origin, and of the perceptible shift in advertising and sponsorship away from radio towards television, it is clear that Clark was chosen for a number of key reasons, not least his potential to render the programme and its music acceptable to a wider audience and, as a consequence, to boost ratings in an attempt to attract advertising and sponsorship. As Clark rather disingenuously put it later:

I wasn't that knowledgeable about rock 'n' roll when I first became the host of Bandstand, because I hadn't been allowed to play rock on my radio show. I had to stick to 'adult' pop music, playing songs by artists like Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney. But hosting Bandstand was like taking a crash course in a new culture.7

In fact, Clark's initiation into what really mattered to him had begun some years earlier, as he began to exploit contacts in the radio, television and record business.

In addition to his radio show at WFIL, Clark had also been employed to front commercial and sponsorship announcements for WFIL-TV. Through these activities he met Bernie Lowe, who was musical director for TV-Teen Club. Lowe was an important figure on the Philadelphia music scene. As well as being a musician, songwriter and bandleader, Lowe had made several attempts to start a record label before founding Cameo Records with fellow songwriter Kal Mann in 1956. Though based in the Philadelphia music scene, Lowe's aspiration for Cameo was to turn local success into something much wider, just as another Philadelphia independent label, Essex, had done in 1953 when Bill Haley's 'Crazy Man, Crazy' achieved some national chart success.

Clark's contacts, such as the one with Bernie Lowe, were to prove mutually beneficial as the success of Bandstand snowballed, attracting 65 per cent of the daytime audience in Philadelphia.8 Clearly, much of the success of Bandstand, both as a local and subsequently a networked programme, depended on its use of local teenagers, drawn especially from the large Italian-American community in Philadelphia, who danced to the music in the studio. As early as 1952, Bob Horn's Bandstand studio dancers had propelled Ray Anthony's 'Bunny Hop' into a local and then national hit through the dance craze spawned by the record. For Clark, it was the dancers who articulated the distinctions surrounding a newly-emerging youth culture:

As important as the artists and music were, one of the elements most responsible for the long-lasting success of American Bandstand was the kids who danced on the show. All over the country, teenagers rushed home from school to watch other teenagers do the newest dances, wear the hippest fashions, and rub shoulders with the most popular artists of the day. Watching Bandstand was like having a window on to a daily party that let you in on the latest trends and music.9

Clark had taken over Bandstand at a period when record sales were increasing significantly. Since the introduction of the 45rpm disc in 1949, record sales in the United States had grown steadily, but between 1954 and 1956 they doubled to an unprecedented 377 million. Moreover, it was becoming clear by 1956 that record sales were increasingly dependent on the visual appearance of the group or singer. To an extent, this was being driven by popular music shows on television, as the success of Bandstand in Philadelphia was replicated by local TV stations in other major cities such as New York, Detroit and Chicago. This in turn forced mainstream entertainment programmes such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Milton Berle Show to book rock performers including, most notably, Elvis Presley.

It also reflected a major change in Hollywood which, having previously reinforced prevailing social criticism of 'youth-as-problem', attempted to address the much more real problem of its declining share of the leisure market by making a direct appeal to the youth market through the exploitation of popular music and its performers. Much of this was driven by the independent production companies that had emerged following the 1948 Supreme Court decision separating the major's control over both distribution and exhibition. As with independent labels in the record industry, independent production companies such as that owned by Sam Katzman were to prove effective in exploiting the potential of the youth market.

While the 1948 Supreme Court decision expressly barred the Hollywood majors from television broadcasting, by the mid 1950s they had moved into television production in a significant way, moving the centre of US television production from New York to Los Angeles. This growing convergence between the US film and television industries was matched by Hollywood's interest in music publishing and record sales. The value of these were such that for Loew's in 1956, it was only the revenues from music publishing and sales through MGM Records that kept the parent company in profit.

With hindsight, and given this backdrop of industrial and commercial realignment, it perhaps seems inevitable that WFIL-TV's Bandstand should have been networked in 1957, but there was nothing inevitable about the success and influence of what became American Bandstand. That needed working at and Dick Clark was both prepared and in a position to do such work. Clark deliberately set out to make Bandstand respectable. At a time when the influential disc jockey Alan Freed was being pilloried by many for his promotion of black artists, Clark was concerned to manage Bandstand in a way that exploited demand for music by both white and black artists but that did not alienate the older generation or - and this was more significant -potential commercial sponsors. Clark simply kept the format for the show that he had inherited from Horn, but insisted on a strict dress code among the dancers in the studio and banned smoking and the consumption of alcohol on the set.

This cautious strategy was important in Philadelphia at a time when Horn was standing trial on vice charges. It was also a key factor in achieving network status, as was Clark's equally cautious approach in building upon Bandstand's reputation among Philadelphia's black teenagers as basically a white show. While admitting some black youngsters as studio dancers in 1957, Clark was well aware that Philadelphia at that time was one of the north's most 'southern' cities in its attitude to racial desegregation, and carefully managed the pressures towards racial integration on the show in ways that reflected powerful local white sensibilities. As we shall see, this sensitivity towards localised racial politics was to have an impact on the ways in which the twist craze was managed and developed.

While adopting this cautious approach, Clark was helped by a policy decision taken by newly-appointed ABC executive Ollie Treyz that reflected the changing demographics of US society. Treyz argued strongly for more youth-orientated programming in a bid to attract part of the juvenile market estimated to be worth some $30 billion in 1957. As Grossberg writes about the so-called teenage market, this was the first generation of children isolated by business (and especially by advertising and marketing agencies) as an identifiable market; despite the sociological differences within the generation . . . the economic strategies were surprisingly successful in constructing a rather coherent generational identity and a singular marketing cluster.10

In fact, Bandstand had already been rejected by NBC as a possible network programme in 1956. Even though WFIL-TV was an ABC affiliate, ABC executives had taken the same decision. However, with only the slightest encouragement, Clark flew to New York and persuaded ABC executives to give Bandstand a network trial, committing WFIL-TV to deliver the programme for no cost. The programme was first broadcast on the network to ABC's forty-eight affiliated stations on 5 August 1957. Its success was both immediate and long lasting, whether measured by audience ratings, by the growing number of affiliates who signed up with ABC to take Bandstand, or by its ability to attract major sponsors including General Mills, 7-Up and Clearasil. Clark's generosity in offering Bandstand for no cost was more illusory than real, since he had already begun to put in place a personal network and financial structure which promised real financial benefit.

In 1956, even before the networking of Bandstand, Clark had been approached by Bernie Lowe of Cameo Records to promote the record 'Butterfly' by local singer Charlie Gracie. At a time when it was still common practice for cover versions of records to be put out by labels with national distribution and 'big-name', usually white, singers, Lowe was keen to promote his original version. As a consequence of promoting the Cameo record on Bandstand and with national disc jockeys, Clark was assigned 25 per cent of the publishing rights of the song and Bandstand's producer, Tony Mammarella, was credited as the songwriter. 'Butterfly' did well and lessons were learnt about the power of Bandstand to promote record sales. It was this link between American Bandstand and record sales that was noted by industry analysts and the trade papers. Variety commented on 7 October 1957 that American Bandstand was 'the greatest stimulant to the record business ever known'.11

As the national importance of American Bandstand became apparent by late 1957 and early 1958, Clark continued to expand his interests in local record, entertainment and media businesses, to the point where he had become a pivitol figure in the Philadelphia music industry: 'With an interest in two music publishing companies . . . three record labels, a record distributorship, a record pressing plant (Mallard) and a share of a talent management agency, Clark was now "vertically integrated" within the music business.'12 Though Clark's supremely influential position within the popular music business in the late 1950s was the most obvious result of his commercial manoeuvrings, it was not the only one. Though never as important as his television work, Clark's involvement with independent film production began the same year as American Bandstand. An approach came from Bob Marcucci who owned Chancellor, a small Philadelphia record label whose product was distributed by Am-Par. With Marcucci and Bernie Binnick (co-owner with Clark of Swan Records) Clark formed the Binlark Company to provide finance for the film Jamboree, produced for and distributed by Warner Bros. in 1957. Clark appeared in the film alongside a number of other disc jockeys, together with musical performers as diverse as Frankie Avalon, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and

Count Basie and a number of lesser artists who recorded with Chancellor. Cameo Records' Charlie Gracie was also in the film. Like many similar films at this time, Jamboree was little more than an excuse to exploit and promote known and less-well-known recording artists. With the thinnest of self-reflexive plots revolving around the efforts of two agents to promote a hit-making duo, the film's revue structure privileges the promotion of a succession of artists in whom Marcucci, Clark and others already had a financial interest.

Clark's interest in film production was consolidated in 1958 with the formation of his Drexel Pictures Corp, which produced Because They're Young, distributed by Columbia Pictures in 1960, a film in which Clark plays a high-school teacher in a role not unlike Glenn Ford's in the 1955 The Blackboard Jungle. With another company, Drexel Films Corp, Clark had a two-picture deal with United Artists and appeared in the 1961 film The Young Doctors. Ultimately, Clark's involvement with film was to merge with his interests in television production, as Dick Clark Productions became a sizeable player in Hollywood in the 1970s.13 The extent of Clark's power and influence throughout and beyond the USA's 'pop village' was to become evident in the role he played in the development and promotion of the twist craze in 1960.

Though it is possible to see the origins of the twist in black dance music dating back to the beginnings of the twentieth century, a contemporary version called 'The Twist' recorded by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters reached the R&B chart in 1958.14 With their reputation for somewhat raunchy lyrics in numbers such as 'Work With Me Annie' and with their hard gospel edge, Ballard and the Midnighters were unlikely to be able, or be allowed, to widen their appeal to white audiences. Impressed by the local success of the record, Clark decided to record a cover version using Ernest Evans, a young man who, while working in a poultry shop in Philadelphia, had already recorded four unsuccessful singles under the name of Chubby Checker for the Parkway label, a subsidiary of Bernie Lowe's Cameo Records. Checker's version of 'The Twist' was given a prime slot on American Bandstand in August 1960, with Checker demonstrating the dance while lip-synching to the record. Following the promotion on Clark's show, Checker's version of the song on Parkway achieved cross-over success, making number one on both the Billboard and Cash Box charts.

The promotion of Chubby Checker singing and demonstrating 'The Twist' on American Bandstand was the catalyst for the craze that swept the US and, subsequently, Britain. Dick Clark's extensive business connections with local record industry friends such as Bernie Lowe, built up over a period of years, provided the infrastructure for the success not just of 'The Twist', but of Cameo-Parkway records, which enjoyed unprecedented commercial success between 1961 and 1963.15

Equally important was Clark's ability to negotiate with powerful ideological forces and their influence on the reception of popular music. The nationwide craze for the twist was not immediate and, building upon Checker's success, depended to some extent on the popularity of Joey Dee and the Starlighters at the Peppermint Lounge with the East Coast celebrity set. Of course, white appropriation of black artistic material has a long history in the United States, but so too has the notion of 'passing' (where light-skinned black Americans were able to 'pass' and be accepted as white) and its consequences even within the black community. Noting that much of the antagonism between W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey in the 1920s was expressed in terms of skin tone, Adam Lively comments,

'passing' shades into the wider issue of colour prejudice, a prejudice that can take in the black community itself. If one is unable to pass as white, one can at least distance oneself from the bottom of the racial heap and obtain membership of a distinct 'blue-vein' caste.16

Arguably, Clark's avowed intent to 'play safe' extended to his sensitivity concerning the racial politics surrounding popular music and its consumption. His promotion of good-looking, light-skinned Chubby Checker reveals an understanding of the cultural importance of 'passing' and its implications for appealing to a mass, white-dominated, commercial market. Interestingly, there is not one black face on Paramount's poster for their film Hey Let's Twist. Checker does feature prominently on Columbia's poster for Don't Knock The Twist, but apart from him and Gene 'Duke of Earl' Chandler, wearing evening suit, top hat and monocle, all the artists depicted are white.

The reissue of Chubby Checker's single in 1961 coincided with a sustained campaign to merchandise Checker and the dance, including the Chubby Checker twister dance kit, a fold-out plastic map on which was printed guidance footprints.17 In January 1962, 'The Twist' reoccupied the number one slot in the Billboard chart. By that time, three twist films had been rushed into production, two of them starring Checker. Even before that, a filmed insert of Checker singing 'The Lose-Your-Inhibition Twist', specially shot in New York, found its way into Richard Lester's It's Trad Dad, a film featuring mostly British pop and 'traditional jazz' talent.18

The plot of Twist Around the Clock, directed by Oscar Rudolph and released in 1961, revolves around the thwarted ambitions of a band named 'The Twisters' who, because of romantic complications, find success eludes them until they are booked into a club where Chubby Checker and Dion are appearing. Success breeds success and 'The Twisters' achieve the ultimate recognition when, in implicit acknowledgement of the power of major entertainment alliances, they are signed onto a nationwide television programme. Though the film does share structural and thematic concerns readily associated with the musical genre, not least the dual narrative centred around the drive for professional

Figure 3 The pleasures of Twist Around the Clock were centred on the performance of chart-toppers such as Dion.

showbiz success and for heterosexual romance, its pleasures are centred on the reprise of chart-topping performances from Checker ('Twistin USA'), Dion ('Runaround Sue', 'The Wanderer') and The Marcels ('Blue Moon').

This symbolic recognition of the power of television to promote popular musical success was more than matched by the economic realities within the entertainment business. Specifically, the importance of business connections constructed by Clark was in evidence with Don't Knock the Twist, also directed by Oscar Rudolph. With Checker being promoted extensively on American Bandstand in 1961, it should come as little surprise that Sam Katzman's associate producer on Don't Knock The Twist was Cameo-Parkway's Kal Mann. As Dawson writes:

Don't Knock The Twist was barely more than a shill for Cameo-Parkway, which controlled most of the artists and the movie's thirteen songs, and for the dozen or so merchandisers who had signed lucrative deals with Checker's manager-producer Kal Mann.19

Like the earlier Twist Around The Clock, the plot has a show business background. Don't Knock The Twist is centred around a television station, and reinforces the importance of television appearances as the key promotional tool in obtaining a hit single. Checker, appearing as himself, is key to television executive Ted Haver's (Lang Jefferies) ability to beat off competition from a rival station. In this way, the film constructs a highly mythologised view of the 'work' undertaken in cultural production in a manner that the classical backstage musical had been doing throughout the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s. Like that subgenre, the film makes self-reflexive use of a show business background, and the last thing it actually does is to reveal the reality of the business behind the product. Whatever its surface transparency, the film actually has the effect of denying the complex commercial factors which lie behind its production. It simultaneously acknowledges the importance of programmes such as American Bandstand in the promotion of popular music and culture and yet denies the material practices that this influence entails.

Like so many similar musical films of the period produced on low budgets and designed to appeal to the youth market, the four feature-length twist films were subjected to carping critical reviews that were almost universally dismissive. Paul V. Beckley, writing in the New York Herald Tribune for example, dismissed Twist Around The Clock as 'unreviewable'.20 While Chubby Checker's performances in Twist Around The Clock and Don't Knock The Twist were acknowledged for their energy, professional critics more familiar with mainstream narrative cinema had problems dealing with thin plot lines whose purpose was to enable a string of musical performances to take place. Such criticism, then as now, misses the point. Films such as these, operating at the margins of the Hollywood canon, lived with and acknowledged their ephemerality. In a sense, that very ephemerality was the justification for their existence. Like contemporary music video, these films are amenable to critical and aesthetic evaluation but, like music video, can only be fully understood if their economic and promotional function is recognised. Like them, they are the product of cultural and commercial convergence, of a complex interplay between institution and agency of the type this chapter has outlined. Perhaps when we try to make sense of contemporary popular culture, of popular music, popular cinema or popular television, we need to engage with the specific material practices that drive cultural production and influence its consumption. It may also be salutory to remember that the twist craze owed much to an individual who, in high school, was voted as 'The Man Most Likely To Sell The Brooklyn Bridge'.


1. This figure excludes the first appearance in the US chart of Chubby Checker's 'The Twist' in 1960 and discounts his 1988 reprise hit with the Fat Boys. The reference to the British chart excludes later hits such as 'Twisting By the Pool' by Dire Straits (1983) and 'Twist and Shout' by Salt 'N' Pepa (1988).

2. Dick Hebdige, Subcultures: The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen, 1979): 90.

3. There were 1,517 independent radio stations in the US compared to 627 network affiliates in 1950. See Donald Clarke, The Rise and Fall of Popular Music (London: Penguin Books, 1995): 256.

4. Mark Williams, 'Introduction: U.S. regional and non-network television history', Quarterly Review of Film and Video 16: 3-4 (1999): 222.

5. Russell Sanjek and David Sanjek, Pennies From Heaven: The American Popular Music Business in the Twentieth Century (New York: Da Capo Press, 1996): 312.

6. John A. Jackson, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997): 19-20.

7. Dick Clark with Fred Bronson, Dick Clark's American Bandstand (New York: Harper Collins, 1997): 14.

9. Dick Clark with Fred Bronson: 15.

10. Lawrence Grossberg, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: Popular Conservatism and Postmodern Culture (London: Routledge, 1992): 173.

11. Cited in Jackson: 79.

12. Jackson: 131.

13. Clark produced three films for American International Pictures (AIP) in the 1960s: Psych-Out (1968), The Savage Seven (1969) and The Killers Three (1969). Dick Clark Productions made Birth of the Beatles in 1979.

14. Jim Dawson, The Twist: The Story of the Song and Dance That Changed the World (Boston: Faber & Faber, 1995): 1-13.

15. Jackson: 222.

16. Adam Lively, Masks: Blackness, Race and the Imagination (London: Chatto & Windus, 1998): 189.

18. Andrew Yule, The Man Who 'Framed' the Beatles (New York: Donald I. Fine Inc., 1994): 68-70.

20. Jan Stacy and Ryder Syvertsen, Rockin' Reels: An Illustrated History of Rock & Roll Movies (Chicago: Contemporary Books Inc., 1984): 118.

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