LOS ANGELES, May 1 (UPI) -- Whatever else Dick Clark has learned since he first hosted "American Bandstand," there is one thing he says you can take to the bank: "If the parents hate it, kids love it."
There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but Clark has observed the phenomenon firsthand ever since he began hosting the show in 1956.
There are still voices warning that rock 'n' roll will destroy the American way of life -- if it hasn't already done the job.
In his 1996 book, "Slouching Toward Gomorrah," former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork was still advocating censorship "for the most violent and sexually explicit material" found in popular culture.
"The very fact that we have gone from Elvis to Snoop Doggy Dogg is the heart of the case for censorship," wrote Bork.
Regardless, the original "American Bandstand" podium and backdrop are on display at the Smithsonian Institution. And for better or worse, "Bandstand" -- once an essential first stop for any record on the way to "golden oldie" status -- is now celebrating its own golden anniversary.
On Friday, Clark returns to the stage that made him a prominent part of American culture when he hosts "American Bandstand's 50th ... A Celebration!" The two-hour special on ABC (8-10 p.m.) features clips from well over 100 of the estimated 10,000 live performances by musical guests who appeared on the telecast over the years.
Performers first presented to TV audiences on "Bandstand" includes The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Blondie, Bon Jovi, James Brown, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, The Doors, Gloria Estefan, Marvin Gaye, Buddy Holly, The Jackson 5, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Barry Manilow, Pink Floyd, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Sonny & Cher, Rod Stewart, The Temptations, Ike & Tina Turner, The Village People and Stevie Wonder.
Elvis Presley never performed on the show -- apparently because his manager, Col. Tom Parker, didn't like the economics. Musicians were paid scale for the "Bandstand" gig.
As Clark recalls it, ABC had to be convinced at first of the wisdom of airing a show featuring kids dancing to the latest records.
"We begged them," he said. "We literally gave it to them. Within four weeks it was No. 1 in daytime."
Even after the show enjoyed commercial success -- perhaps because of its success -- Clark and the network found themselves fending off attacks. Rock 'n' roll, it seems, was the devil's music.
"This was a rampaging forest fire in the mid '50s," said Clark. "It was almost like collusion between parents, religious leaders, politicians and, most of all, the old-line music establishment. Their livelihood was slipping away, taken over by the 'untalented, unwashed' people."
But, said Clark, the new music was an unstoppable tidal wave.
In addition to the "blast-from-the-past" clips, the show will feature "live" -- recently taped -- performances by Michael Jackson, Cher, Babyface, Brandy, Alanis Morrissette, KISS, KC & The Sunshine Band, the Village People and Wonder.
On top of that, a "supergroup" led by Little Richard performs his classic, "Good Golly, Miss Molly." The band includes Jim Belushi (harmonica), Stanley Clarke (bass), The E Street Band's Clarence Clemons (saxophone), Alabama's Jeff Cook, Johnny Rivers, Sheila E (percussion), Mick Fleetwood (drums), James Ingram and Billy Preston (organs) and Chicago's horn section.
Also, Dennis Quaid ("The Rookie") and his band, The Sharks, will have their TV performing debut -- doing "Great Balls Of Fire," from the 1989 movie of the same name, in which Quaid starred as Jerry Lee Lewis.
Clark said the taping sessions were highly emotional for him.
"The whole evening I was saying to my wife, it should have been a happy occasion, but it was mixed emotions," he said. "My kids were there -- not my birth children -- but the dancers."
Clark said it was actually the "kids" -- not the recording artists -- who made the show. "American Bandstand" was a central meeting place for teenagers across the country to check out the latest styles.
It was also a direct forebear of MTV, which began in 1982 -- seven years before "Bandstand" went off the air.
The archives are loaded with such moments as the national TV debut of Simon & Garfunkel, performing as Tom & Jerry in November 1957, and the appearance by Chubby Checker in the summer of '60, introducing one of the biggest dance crazes of all time, "The Twist."
Then, there was the time that this new band from England, The Beatles, scored a passing grade of 73 on "Rate-A-Record" for "She Loves You."
"Rate-A-Record" -- in which new records were put to the ultimate test of instant approval or rejection -- provided the culture with a formula for evaluating things that is still in use: "It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it. I'd give it an eight."