| Video |

Firefall's Jock Bartley on American Bandstand and the time Dick Clark called the band "Firefly"

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

See Also: R.I.P. Dick Clark, 11/30/29 - 4/18/12

Firefall is one of a handful of Colorado acts (Richie Furay and Phillip Bailey were among the others) who performed on American Bandstand over the course of the show's four-decade run, a span that encompasses nearly 3,000 episodes. The band appeared on the show twice, but it's the first time in 1979 that Jock Bartley remembers the most fondly, when the dearly departed Dick Clark got the band's name wrong and he kept it moving without missing a beat.

"The first time we appeared," Barley recalls, "we played the song, and then a minute later, he taped the going-to-commercial blurb and Dick said, 'And that was Firefly with their new hit. We'll be right back...'" Firefly?!

"We were all standing there, still with guitars on," Bartley continues. "The guy behind the camera said, 'Dick, it's Firefall, you want to do that again?' Dick, who notoriously never liked to do a second take on anything -- even a ten-second tag to commercial -- said 'No' and then taped the next segment, saying something like 'Of course I meant to say FireFALL. We'll be seeing them again soon.' We laughed...not a big deal. Hell, we were just on Bandstand!"

When we caught up with Bartley just a bit ago, he pulled the curtain back for us and let us in on a couple other things we didn't know about American Bandstand, a program that marked many a Saturday morning for us when we were growing up, and the outfit's second appearance in 1981. Page down for some fun facts he shared.

Firefall's second appearance on American Bandstand (2/7/81)

• They would use the same crowd of young people for the two to three shows they taped on one day. They had the same kids change clothes, but used the same crowd for three shows they taped. I remember the director making sure that kids who had been in the front dancing were placed in the back on the "next week's" taping.

• I got to shake his [Clark's] hand one time. When he came out after our "lip-sung" song, he said, "Great jobs, guys," and shook Rick Roberts's hand and then my hand. I knew how big of an honor that was -- even though it was like a cattle call of artists.

• The second time we played American Bandstand was behind our single "Stayin With it," in 1980. Atlantic Records had added a female singer to the song without our knowledge. We thought the album was done, and then our manager had said, "Atlantic feels the song needed something to put it over the top," and so, without us knowing anything about it, they added a female singer that just happened to be newly managed by our manager.

So an hour before the taping of Bandstand, we met her for the first time (!) and Rick and her had to figure out what kind of moves they'd do. That was strange. (We also appeared with her on Solid Gold the following day.) But on national TV, we were suddenly on stage lip-synching with a female singer who we'd never met before. It was weird! Way to go, Mr. Manager.

American Bandstand was always lip-synch, never live. They ran a very tight ship.

• Dick was very gracious to us and every artist/band who appeared. What an icon!

Page down to see Phillip Bailey on Bandstand circa "Easy Lover."

Phillip Bailey on American Bandstand (3/16/85)

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.