Special delivery! My copy of Bandstand Diaries: The Philadelphia Years 1956 to 1963 arrived today! My twin sister Sheryl and I were ecstatic when co-author Sharon Sultan-Cutler approached us earlier this year about contributing to the book via our research from The Surf Speaks: Voices of a Living History. What a thrill it was to find the first page signed by Arlene Sullivan, one of the most celebrated dancers on American Bandstand, as well as our names in the index and our project narrative and pictorial featured within its volume.
The Surf Speaks and Bandstand Diaries both emphasize the importance of music fans and the significant roles they play in the history and preservation of early rock and roll. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper") all appeared on American Bandstand. These artists, known as "The Three Stars," are celebrated at the Surf Ballroom's annual Winter Dance Party, an event our research documented in February 2016 through fan perspectives ("The February Family").
The day "The Three Stars" tragically died in a plane crash (February 3, 1959) became known in popular culture as "The Day the Music Died" after its reference in Don McLean's song, American Pie. Our essay in Bandstand Diaries is appropriately titled, "The Day the Music Didn't Die."
In a recent article, I noted the importance of American Bandstand to our professional beginnings. Taking on the music, choreography, costumes and recruitment, Sheryl and I recreated a scene from the show with the help of our classmates for a school drama club intermezzo. It was our first significant act of music heritage preservation. We watched the TV series American Dreams and tried to vicariously live through this 21st Century re-imagining of the show as if we were 1950s teens.
Having created The Surf Speaks in September 2015, it has been rewarding for us to see our work gain interest and evolve over the course of the year. Last month, The Surf Speaks became a part of Buddy Holly's 80th birthday exhibit at the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association. The exhibit will run through the end of February 2017. And now with an appearance in Bandstand Diaries, The Surf Speaks has been both exhibited and published!
These experiences are bringing more of us together in our shared passion for the advocacy of this musical, social and cultural history. We are indebted to Sharon, Arlene and Ray for the extraordinary opportunity they've given us and for their dedication to bringing the era of American Bandstand to fans and future generations through the unprecedented account that is Bandstand Diaries!
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