Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kick out the jams: American Bandstand edition

I had a crazy day a couple weeks ago.

Sometime during the afternoon of October 5th, 2014, I learned of the unfortunate passing of rock star Paul Revere during a run through my blogroll. After seeing the card in the post in question, my thought process went a little like this.

Wait...what? American Bandstand cards? There are AMERICAN BANDSTAND CARDS?!?! I MUST HAVE THEM!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went to Ebay within minutes to try and purchase the 100-card set. The cheapest one I could find was a little more than I wanted to pay, but, since it came with a Best Offer option, I tried negotiating with the seller.

We went back and forth a few times and I was about to accept the guy's latest offer when I checked my email for no particular reason.

Waiting for me was a message from Mark, better known as Mr. Fuji, from the outstanding blog "San Jose Fuji".

He also happened to post about the American Bandstand cards earlier that same day, and I commented on how I was trying to find a set in my price range.

Apparently, Mr. Fuji opened a box of the stuff and compiled two complete sets from it. I guess he was planning on selling the extra one until he saw my comment.

Out of the graciousness of his heart, he offered to send me my very own copy of the 100-card American Bandstand set. It was on my doorstep about a week later, capping off what proved to be a crazy journey to acquire the latest piece to my music-themed collection.

I couldn't have been happier.

As I learned from my research on that crazy afternoon, the cards themselves were produced by a company called Collect-A-Card in 1993.

Much of the checklist is centered around the late Dick Clark, the iconic host of American Bandstand.

Granted, the show's heyday was way, way before my time. But I do know that American Bandstand was the place to be in the '60s and '70s. You knew a band was going good if they were on American Bandstand.

The design of these is pretty spiffy, black borders and all. While I'm sure the checklist could've been well over 100 cards, the people down at Collect-A-Card managed to cram a little of everything into the final product.

Whether it be a Tribute to the Beatles or the famous Rate-A-Record (no Cheech and Chong, sadly) segment, the set captures a lot of the general goings-on at American Bandstand.

The fun never ended on American Bandstand.

I found it interesting that some of the dancers themselves had their own little fan clubs in the show's early days, something that the "Bob & Justine" card in the top-left commemorates.

I also had no idea that American Bandstand managed to last into the '80s. The final show with Dick Clark hosting aired in 1987, although it was already in a steep decline throughout the decade.

Thanks, MTV.

On top of all that, the backs are more in-depth than most baseball cards.

Comprehensive bio, biggest hits, dates of American Bandstand appearances, and even a bonus trivia question. Good luck finding anything like that on cards these days.

As you might guess, the main focus of this set (for me, anyways) are the musical acts themselves. Admittedly, I'd never heard of a good chunk of the bands included in the checklist. Quite a few were one-hit wonders or other various disco acts that I do my best to ignore.

That said, the people at Collect-A-Card threw in a whole bunch of more well-known performers and/or groups who performed on American Bandstand at one point or another, many of whom had never been immortalized on cardboard before.

As a result, I thought I'd compile a top ten list from the set according to my own musical tastes.

Just for kicks.

#10 -- Devo

I have to believe that this is the only Devo card in existence.

While I'm not a huge fan of theirs, this one was too awesome to not include in this post.

#9 -- K.C. & The Sunshine Band

I don't know a ton of their songs, but the ones I have heard are quite groovy.

Like Devo, this shot was too great to ignore.

#8 -- Jim Croce

My dad's first record was a Jim Croce album.

He's a way bigger fan of his than I am, but I have many fond childhood memories of listening to Jim Croce in the living room.

#7 -- The Turtles

I actually saw Flo and Eddie live when I was a wee lad, but I sadly don't have a vivid memory of it.

I do remember that they closed with what is easily their most famous song and perhaps one of the most well-known tunes in rock history.

#6 -- James Brown

Not even the Rolling Stones could follow this guy.

#5 -- Otis Redding

As of this writing, I haven't listened to a ton of Otis Redding's tunes.

I find this curious, considering almost everything I have heard by the guy is gold. I'll have to take a deeper dig into his catalog one of these days.

There's potential for Otis to move up this list.

#4 -- Steppenwolf

Even if the name might not ring a bell, I think everyone in the world has heard at least one Steppenwolf song.

#3 -- The Lovin' Spoonful

Here's another one of my dad's favorite bands.

Like Steppenwolf, I'm sure most people know something by the Lovin' Spoonful. It's hard to turn on classic radio without hearing a song by them. It's the kind of pop that makes the '60s so great.

Not to mention that John Sebastian, their lead singer, wrote the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song.

#2 -- Smokey Robinson

Smokey and I have always had a special connection, in that we share February 19th birthdays.

While this very '80s-ish shot may not show it, Smokey was one of the big stars of early Motown and remains one of the most prolific musicians in history.

He wrote what I still consider to be one of the best songs ever.

#1 -- Buddy Holly

I am a huge Buddy Holly fan.

I developed a love for '50s rock at as a young lad that has only gotten stronger with age. Without people like Eddie Cochran or Buddy Holly, bands like the Beatles or the Who might have never existed.

It's astounding that Holly produced as much as he did before his tragic death at the age of 22. One can only wonder where his music would've gone had he lived a full life.

Perhaps we'd be talking about him as the most influential icon in rock history right now.

A heartfelt thanks goes out to Mr. Fuji for being nice enough to send this amazing set my way.

Combing through these cards allowed me to relive the good ol' days of music, a time that I never actually got to live through in the first place.

One can only wish.


Zippy Zappy said...

Darn it Nick, you (and Fuji) make these music-centered cards so great that I just went ahead and purchased a card featuring an artist I like.

BaseSetCalling said...

you used to be able to say "Well it's got a good beat and you can dance to it" as a little gag to make people laugh. Few know that quote any more.

Julie Owens said...

Dick Clark, a teenager til he died. Nick, you touched on a soft spot for me, 60s-70s music. Groovy card set and yeah, I have to find these now.

Al Kawamoto said...

is that a MC5 reference?

Fuji said...

Great post Nick! Glad you were willing to give this set a warm and loving home.

P.S. I received your package, but I haven't gotten around to busting it open yet. I'll email you as soon as I have a few moments. Thanks in advance :)

Ana Lu said...

What a great non-sport set!

Mike said...

Just one correction,buddy....Paul Revere And The Raiders were American!....according to my UK rock-geek buddies,they weren't that popular over there....

....great list and thanks for including the Croce card!!

Swing And A Pop-up said...

I found a few packs of those at a card show when I was down in Orlando, FL a few years ago. I went looking for baseball cards, but all I bought were packs of American Bandstand and Mork & Mindy cards!