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Bob Horn/Philly Bandstand - Bob Adams/KILT


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This is a story I just recently learned of, a small part of Houston's radio history, about the man who originated the show Bandstand on Philly TV in 1952 and then wound up as a deejay on KILT, an ad agency owner and bar owner in Houston.

Briefly, Bob Horn was a deejay on Philly's WFIL who was given a TV time slot for his program Bob Horn's Bandstand. After failing it its original format the show took off when teens were invited to the studio to dance on camera. Over the years 1952 to 1956, Bob Horn's Bandstand sometimes garnered as much as 60% of the daytime Philly TV audience, running as long as two hours a day, five days a week, all done live. TV executives elsewhere took notice, copycat programs started popping up and there was talk of going national, but Bob Horn's career hit some major stumbling blocks in 1956 - a drunk driving charge (fined), an accident involving alcohol, and statutory rape charges (hung jury in the first trial, acquittal in the second).

Despite the acquittal, Horn was finished in Philly TV. The station had selected a 26 year old replacement, **** Clark, who had to be given a crash course in rock and roll, and the show was going on. The following year, with Clark as emcee, the show went national on ABC as American Bandstand.

An old friend and employer Gordon McLendon called and offered Horn a job on his new station in Houston in 1957, KILT, and Horn came to town, changing his name to Bob Adams. It's not clear if he was on the air from the first or joined the station a few months later but he didn't last long - his Philly sound didn't go over with Houston listeners and he was taken off the air and put in sales. As a salesman he thrived, said to be very popular with advertisers with his stories of Bandstand. Eventually he left the station, started an advertising agency (Bob Adams Associates) and was credited with Houston's first Midnight Madness Sale among other promotions. He bought a ranch and a bar in Bellaire called the Town and Country Lounge.

But then in 1966, at only 50 years of age, he died of a heat stroke induced heart attack while mowing his lawn. He is buried at Forest Park where his simple grave marker includes the word Bandstand.

I'm hoping that some readers of my blog or HAIFers may know more they can add to the story of his time in Houston such as where his bar was and whether any of the hosts of the local TV dance shows (Larry Kane, Bob Byron, etc.) ever knew of him and conferred with him about their shows.

Here is my complete post on the man, including what I know of him in Houston.

The History of Rock has the most complete account of his career that I know of online, including pictures of the show in Philly, the newspaper articles concerning the charges and his grave marker.

The Philadelphia City Paper did a story on American Bandstand a few years ago on the fortieth anniversary and included some references to the earlier show, while this article from the Tuscon Sun introduced me to Stan Blitz and his book Bandstand: The Untold Story.

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