This Day in ’81: Firefall Appears on American Bandstand

Thursday, February 7, 2019
This Day in Music

38 years ago today, Firefall appeared on American Bandstand to promote their album CLOUDS ACROSS THE SUN.


When we originally started work on the piece, it was with the belief that this appearance was Firefall’s one and only time appearing on the iconic series, which was hosted by Dick Clark for an astounding 33 years. In fact, from all of the information we’ve been able to dig up, it was their lone appearance. Certainly, it’s the only one for which we were able to find video footage, which you can see below, but… Well, just watch the clip, and we’ll get to the rest of this matter shortly.



In an interview with Westword, Firefall’s Jock Bartley recalled with some amusement about this appearance, particularly the way the above interview clip starts off, i.e. with the introduction of the band’s female backing vocals.


“Atlantic Records had added a female singer to the song without our knowledge,” explained Bartley. “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: 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.”


Now, in regards to this being Firefall’s only appearance on American Bandstand, we’ve checked IMDb as well as, and we can’t find any other reference to the band appearing on the show either before or since that time in ’81. According to Bartley, however, the ’81 appearance was their second time on the show.


In that same Westword piece, Bartley recalled having been on the show in ’79:


"The first time we appeared, 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. 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!"


If anyone else can find the appearance, we’d love to see it. For now, though, we’re just going to enjoy the anecdote.