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This past week we lost another great man in Dick Clark, who was known as “America’s oldest teenager.” To the youth of America in the late fifties through the eighties, he was best known as the host of American Bandstand, a dance show featuring Clark playing hit singles. In addition, the show often had popular artists lip-sync a song or two. Teenagers would get to see other teens dance to the hottest hits, providing the opportunity to keep up with the latest and greatest dance moves and music, all in one show.

Clark also would play new records on his show in the Rate-A-Record segment. Selected teenagers would be asked what they liked and didn’t like about the song (“It had a beat and you could dance to it”) and would assign a number value. Clark would then compute an average score based on the individual scores.

Although the Beatles never performed on American Bandstand, Clark did, of course, play their records. Although tapes of the show from 1963 are limited, it has been reported that Clark played “Please Please Me” in a Rate-A-Record segment in February or March of 1963, with the single scoring in the mid-seventies.

A bit more is known about the next Beatles single featured in Rate-A-Record. Shortly after the single’s release on September 16, 1963, Dick Clark played “She Loves You.” The song averaged a mediocre 73 score. According to Clark, “When the kids saw a photo of the four long-haired lads, they just laughed.” The band’s appearance and the song’s “yeah, yeah, yeah” refrain were totally foreign to what American teens were used to seeing and hearing in 1963. Clark would not play a Beatles record again until 1964 when Beatlemania exploded in America.

I twice contacted Dick Clark during the research of my books. He took time from his busy schedule to answer my questions in writing. My last contact with him was after his 2004 stroke. I faxed him a picture (shown below) of the Beatles receiving an in-house gold record award at Carnegie Hall and asked him to identify the three people in the photo other than the Beatles. He sent me back a fax identifying two of men, who were former business associates of Clark.

QUESTION

Dick Clark was the co-founder and initial 50% owner of a record label that later released singles by the Beatles. What was the name of the record company, the city it was located in and the two Beatles singles it released? Bonus: What were the names of the other two co-founders of the company?

Dick Clark was the co-founder and initial 50% owner of Swan Records, which was based in his home town of Philadelphia. In mid-September 1963, Swan released the single “She Love You” b/w “I’ll Get You.” Although the record initially flopped, it was re-issued in early 1964 and went on to top the charts and sell over two millions copies. Swan also issued a single featuring the German-language version of “She Loves You” backed by “I’ll Get You.” The record was titled “Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You)” and was credited to “Die Beatles.” After Capitol Records filed suit, Swan pulled “Sie Liebt Dich” from circulation as the label did not have the rights to issue the recording.

 

Swan Records was founded in 1957 by Dick Clark, Tony Mammarella and Bernie Binnick. By the time the label released its Beatles singles, Clark was no longer an owner.

Although Dick Clark was not implicated in the 1959 Congressional investigations into the music industry practice of payola (disc jockeys accepting money and other favors to play particular records), the payola scandal did affect him. American Bandstand was being broadcast by the ABC television network. In order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, ABC-Paramount president Leonard Goldstein forced Clark to divest himself of his ownership interests in record and publishing companies, including Swan Records.

Swan co-owner Tony Mammarella hands George Martin and the Beatles an in-house gold record award for sales of over one million units of “She Loves You.” Co-owner Bernie Binnick is in the background between Martin and Mammarella. The picture was taken by William “PoPsie” Randolph at Carnegie Hall on February 12, 1964.

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