Dion, the Dave Clark Five and Dancing to Dick Clark #AtoZChallenge

D is for Dion, the Dave Clark Five and Dancing to Dick Clark. Fourth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

My early teen crushes weren’t just local Endwell boys. My diary was also populated with rock, pop and soul singers or band members that I regularly fell in and out of love with.

I break up with Dion

My first heartthrob was Dion, who went solo in the early 1960s after leaving the Belmonts. I tacked his photos all over the walls of my bedroom’s radio alcove and carefully saved my babysitting money to buy his “Runaround Sue” and “Lovers Who Wander” albums — both of which I still have!

Yet even my teen celebrity crushes were fleeting — here today, gone tomorrow, dispensed with in my diary as new infatuations arose.

May 20, 1963. I don’t like Dion anymore…he’s getting married! May 19, 1964. Dion!! That’s a laugh!!! [arrow to 1963 entry.]

I take up with Dave Clark

Truthfully, Dion never stood a chance. By 1964, when I turned 14, the British Invasion of pop groups had begun — the dawning of a counterculture that would burst my generation out of the straight-laced 1950s.

The Beatles are now seen as leaders of this invasion — but when it began, the Dave Clark Five were considered their rivals in teen magazines like Sixteen and Big Beat.

According to my diary, I really liked Dave Clark and his band — whose first album “Glad All Over” I also still have.

March 15, 1964. The Dave Clark Five are beautiful!! I screamed like mad when I heard them sing! They’re way better than the Beatles. I think they’re GORGEOUS.

A fan club is born

And I was not alone. Some of my Junior High girlfriends also sided with the Dave Clark Five in the rivalry — and pretty soon I logged plans in my diary to start a Dave Clark Five Fan Club.

April 26, 1964. I’m starting a DC5 fan club as soon as I get Dave’s address! April 27, 1964. Jackie and I are going to start  a nationwide DC5 fan club! April 28, 1964. Our fan club is working out GREAT! I’ll get Gramps to print fan club cards! We’re gonna send to Dave for pics! And send our addresses to 16 Mag. and others to print.

A teen special magazine published in 1964. The Beatles are now regarded as leaders of the British Invasion — but when it began, the Dave Clark Five were considered as their rivals in teen magazines like Sixteen and Big Beat. Scan by Molly Charboneau

From there, the Dave Clark Five Fan Club took off. My grandfather, who worked at a printing company, came through with the cards — and Jackie and I got busy signing and distributing them.

May 10, 1964. Gramps printed 6,000 DC5 Fan Club cards!! Jackie-n-I laughed so hard it wasn’t funny! May 12, 1964. Gave out 200 cards in school! June 2, 1964. Wrote a letter to Teen Topics [on] Sat! [a local newspaper column] They just called me and asked if they could use my name when they print it! June 3, 1964. Sent fan club cards to the guys at Teen Topics! June 9, 1964. Everybody read my article in the paper! [which also plugged the fan club.]

I learn and grow

But why settle for just Endwell publicity? I got our DC5 fan club announced on an Albany, N.Y., pop radio station near my grandparents’ house — and soon got letters from two girls, Bobbie and Marty from Burnt Hills, N.Y., who I corresponded with for years and even met once at a Schenectady record shop.

Big Beat Magazine (1964). My well-loved issue of Big Beat, featuring the Dave Clark Five. I wrote the magazine asking to be a teen correspondent — but alas, they turned me down. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Emboldened by this success, I wrote to Epic Records — and got a card back from them making us an official DC5 fan club!

That prompted me to write to Big Beat magazine asking to be a teen correspondent — but alas, they turned me down.

Still, bit by bit, our Dave Clark Five Fan Club helped me learn and grow in my early teens in new and exciting ways — and with that came a new perspective.

June 22, 1964. I love Dave Clark, but I’m over the screaming stages!

Dancing to Dick Clark

Of course there was one more Clark who served as a daily inspiration in my early teens — that was Dick Clark, whose program American Bandstand aired on TV at 4 p.m. First thing after school, I’d change into cutoffs and a T-shirt and head down the basement to watch the dance show — sometimes inviting girlfriends over, too.

In the middle of our rec room was a round, metal upright pole that supported the house beams. With a bathrobe belt tied around it, that pole made a perfect “dance partner” for practice.

That’s how I learned couples dances like the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop and the Cha Cha — swinging out and turning under the terrycloth belt as I followed along with the Philadelphia teens dancing onscreen to Top 40 hits.

Up next: E is for Edgar Allen Poe and the willow tree. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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22 thoughts on “Dion, the Dave Clark Five and Dancing to Dick Clark #AtoZChallenge”

  1. I loved my mags of 16! You really were adventurous in starting a Fan Club… I never thought of that but sent many letters to all the magazines for one thing or another. Nothing better than waiting for a letter back… and bonus of a signed pic of your heart throb! I can only imagine what I wrote in my diaries that I threw away right before I married. How stupid of me! Nice memories to save for the future generations.

  2. I am a little bit younger than you but my brother was 16/17 in 1963 so I remember all those bands and songs. I too had crushes on various pop stars but I could never understand the screaming and even less the fainting until I went to my first ever concert and my girlfriend and I were down near the front. I learnt it wasn’t the sight of the popstars that did it, it was the lack of air! Passed out and got passed over the crowd by two burly security guards to the stage where I was helped out the back to the first aid station while at the same time madly trying to pull my dress down from up near my armpits. Lost my friend but I figured if I waited long enough she’d join me and sure enough she did. 🙂

  3. It’s funny how the music of our youth define our aesthetic sensibility. The way Dion used the blues styles or how the Dave Clark Five followed old English song forms was a hook that captured our imaginations. I can vividly remember that cultural change in the 60s when certain catchy tunes on the radio defined a summer. Sadly I don’t think that’s how pop music works anymore. Your ambitious plans to start a fan club made me laugh. They now seem quaint in the era of Instagram and Twitter.

    As comments were closed on your story of your radio alcove, I wanted to say that I grew up with a Grundig tabletop radio just like yours. My dad kept that wonderful radio it for decades even after the tubes had burned out. He was in the army and when I was 9 he was transferred to Frankfurt, Germany. There was no English language television then, so for three years we listened to the Armed Forces Radio Network on that Grundig. If we wanted different music we could pick up many of the French and British stations as well as German. And of course there was shortwave to pick up a ball game from the good ol’ USA. Not only did I discover the Beatles and Dave Clark Five first on radio, but I also learned to love the older radio series like The Shadow or The Whistler which the AFRN regularly played. So from ’63 to ’68 during my formative years, I was fortunate to be insulated from the television era that was then taking over America and instead learned to love radio. Right now I mostly listen to foreign stations over an internet radio WiFi box. Radio New Zealand has been my favorite this past year.

  4. I remember going to the DC5 concert with you at UE HighSchool. It was an epic event, my first major concert.
    Afterward, we hiked back to your house, traipsing through the cemetery on the way.
    At least that’s how I remember it.

    1. Yes, this is all accurate. I didn’t include it because it happened during our later teens — next year’s topic 🙂 So stay tuned for that!

  5. I’ve just watched the videos as well…so much fun and blast from the past. Love that Crystals song and amusing to see they were doing the same jive that I learnt at my local dance studio. I need to find a 50s-60s download now 😉

    1. I couldn’t believe how many videos I was able to find. These were the best, but so many more — so it was a fun night of writing and reminiscing on this one 🙂

  6. You made me smile with lots of your comments here. What an amazing job you did with the fan club and wonderful your grandfather supported you so much. I did my screaming athe Beatles concert in Brisbane…still can’t believe I was allowed to go.

    1. The early 1960s were quite a time — in the music scene and elsewhere. Our young relatives would hardly believe what we got up to, screaming at those concerts. The best part of the videos is how much fun the performers also appear to be having — they were young themselves, not much older than their fans.

  7. I love how committed you were to the DC5 Fan Club and that your grandfather printed 6,000 cards. That’s impressive. The impact of music on those teenage years is intense. I remember my musical crushes too!Weekends In Maine

    1. Glad to hear musical crushes are not a thing of the past! It sure was fun remembering mine when I wrote this post 🙂

  8. Molly this post was so much fun. I went and had a look at your other post too about the radio. Pretty impressive. I loved listening to radio too but never thought to write to the DJs or set up a fan club. Go you! I’m a bit younger than you are so don’t remember the names of the bands but certainly remember the songs. That last video was classic. I look at all the faces and none of them look really happy. They’re all concentrating very hard on looking cool I think. There’s only maybe one couple that is enjoying each other’s company. Everyone else looks like they wish they were dancing with someone else or had worn a different skirt 😉

    1. I love your assessment of American Bandstand! Fast forward 40 years and I was out swing dancing one evening when I realized my partner was dancing exactly like on Dick Clark’s program. Turns out he used to take the bus to Philadelphia from NYC in the early 1960s to dance on the show. So it took awhile, but I finally got to dance with one of those American Bandstand regulars 🙂

  9. How exciting that you started your own fan club.! I love reading your excited teenage words. I’ve subscribed so I don’t miss anything in your story

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! The fan club was great fun and introduced me to the world of PR and pen pals — and getting that card from Epic Records was quite a thrill!

  10. Molly,

    I’m impressed that you started the official DC5 fan club. When the British Invasion hit the US I was just much to young to remember. Of course that music served the the later half of the 60s quite well and even on into the early 70s which is when I remember most of the songs made popular early in the decade. I still enjoy much of the fabulous sounds to cross the pond landing on our shore. Rock music to a new direction. I love the old sounds of yesterday. Oh yeah, and who could forget Dick Clark and the American Bandstand? Not me!! I loved reading this entry, my dear. Thanks for sharing!

    Curious as a Cathy’s Looney Tunes A-Z Daffy Duck Art Sketch. Join the fun at your leisure. Happy A2Zing, my friend!

  11. I was just a toddler in the early sixties so missed out on most of this music, but do remember American Bandstand from later years. I admire your initiative in starting the fan club.

    1. Thanks, Marcy. My younger sisters are around your age and grew up with an entirely different genre of music than I did.

  12. I don’t know any of the band you mentions (well, except the Beatles), but I love your initiative to set up a fan club. Hooray for Bobbie and Marty!
    If I was going to tell my son, he’d probably be like “what’s a record shop? Why didn’t they just download the songs?”

    During one of our road trips we spent the night at Schenectady, and I thought it was the most charming little town!

    1. Agree with you about Schenectady, and was even livelier in the early 1960s when it had a vibrant downtown. Perhaps now that vinyl is making a comeback, your son and his generation may yet learn the pleasure of record albums 🙂

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