Connecticut Bandstand

On July 9, 1956, Dick Clark took over as host of American Bandstand on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Later that same year (October 17, 1956), WNHC-TV in New Haven began airing Connecticut Bandstand. Both WFIL and WNHC were station affiliates under the Triangle Publications Radio and Television company.

For the most part, Connecticut Bandstand mirrored Dick Clark’s national American Bandstand. The show’s format featured teenagers in and around Connecticut who danced to hit songs that were popular at the time. Local pop artists from Connecticut performed on the show, lip-syncing to their recordings. Like American Bandstand, the Connecticut Bandstand show featured dance regulars who gained local fame and even had their own fan clubs. Two such regulars were a couple known as Cookie and Charley. Cookie Teznick and Charley (Charlie) Lent were a very popular dancing duo on the show in 1957. Later that year, Cookie and Charley recorded two singles—“Let’s Go Rock and Roll” and “I Love You So”—that were popular on a local basis, charting in the Top 20 on Connecticut radio stations. Many of the teenagers appearing on the show were students at local New Haven high schools, such as Hillhouse High and Wilbur Cross High. 

Local recording artists that performed on Connecticut Bandstand included Debbie and the Darnels, the Catalinas, the Academics, Ginny Arnell, Andy Dio, Billy James, Roger Koob and the Premiers, the Van Dykes, the Reveliers, the Pyramids and Ron and His Rattletones. Connecticut Bandstand aired on WNHC-TV weekdays Monday through Friday at 3:30 p.m., immediately prior to American Bandstand. The show’s first host was Jim Gallant. He hosted many record hops and outdoor shows featuring local performers. For example, Gallant hosted and produced concerts in 1959 at Marino’s Danz-Er-Roll in Buckingham Hall in Waterbury, Connecticut. Also, it is purported that Gallant was in the running to host American Bandstand, but the job was awarded to Dick Clark. After allegations of payola arose, Gallant resigned, refusing to sign an affidavit admitting to receiving gifts in exchange for playing records. In March 1960, Elliot “Biggie” Nevins became the show’s new host. Nevins also hosted local record hops. Connecticut Bandstand ended in 1962 with Mike Sapack as the last host of the show. 

by Tony Renzoni (author of the book CONNECTICUT ROCK ‘n’ ROLL: A HISTORY © )

IMPORTANT NOTE: Portions of the write-up are Copyrighted and taken from Renzoni’s book “Connecticut Rock ‘n’ Roll: A History”. For further info, check: https://www.connecticutrocknroll.com

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