It felt like 1959 in South Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon as Frankie Avalon stepped off the stage at Broad and Tasker and was swamped by a sea of fans that disc jockey Jerry Blavat helped him navigate.

Avalon, the former teen idol and actor, was decked out in a silver blazer and tinted shades - possibly necessitated by the luminescent smile of pal Blavat, also known as "the Geator" and "the Boss with the Hot Sauce."

But instead of autographs, everyone wanted a selfie.

"How do you do this?" Avalon laughed, as he grabbed a woman's phone and tried to snap the photo himself.

Avalon and Blavat were joined by fellow South Philly native and rocker Charlie Gracie, Mural Arts Philadelphia founder Jane Golden, and local politicians for a block party to dedicate a mural celebrating American Bandstand-era musicians.

Naturally, hoagies and soft pretzels were on hand and on the house.

"We lived at a very special time," Blavat said. "It will never be the same. The music will keep us young."

Besides him, Avalon and Gracie, the mural features Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Eddie Fisher, Fabian Forte, Al Martino, and James Darren, with scenes of Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore. Local artist Eric Okdeh is the lead muralist.

"Murals, the public art you see around this city, are truly the autobiography of Philadelphia," Golden told an estimated crowd of 300.

She said the strong support her organization has received for the new mural is a "testament to how meaningful this history is to music lovers everywhere."

"The mayor made fun of me a little bit for saying this to him this morning, but I said, 'Venice has canals and Paris has the Eiffel Tower, but Philadelphia has murals,' " said Jane Slusser, chief of staff for Mayor Kenney.

The mural was a hit. Just don't bring up the state of modern pop music in this crowd.

"It's devolved," said strolling accordionist Nicola Argentina. "The music today lacks tone and quality. They just shout."

"I think the music today sucks," Linda Calabrese said. "They do a lot of jibber jabber and talk about bad stuff."

Calabrese's friend Adrienne Tranchetti said the difference between then and now was simple.

"There was so much more love involved," she said.

benderw@phillynews.com

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@wbender99