I know this is April, but I want to start this blog by saying my New Year’s Eve tradition from here on out will never be the same. The way I, and millions, and millions of people ring in the New Year has been changed forever. Richard Wagstaff Clark, also known as Dick Clark passed away yesterday on April 18, 2012 at the age of 82 of a heart attack.
He was known for his shows, “American Bandstand,” and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” He also appeared as a host of the game show, “Pyramid.” He owned “Dick Clark Productions.” Even after his stroke, which he suffered in late 2004, he would eventually continue his New Year’s Eve show which Ryan Seacrest (Idol) would co-host. He was known as “America’s Oldest Teenager” because of his love of music, and getting the youth of America into the modern music, and also had a very youthful appearance which he maintained into his later years.
Clark’s first big break came when he moved to Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and his neighbor happened to be Ed McMahon. He took a job as disc jockey at the radio station WFIL , and the station’s affiliated television show was on the same call sign (which is now WPVI) was titled “Bob Horn’s Bandstand” in 1952. Well, Dick Clark was a regular substitute on the show. Horn was dismissed from the show due to his getting a drunk driving charge in 1956, and Clark was made permanent host, and ABC picked up the show, and it was renamed “American Bandstand.”
Some of the aspects of the show were that Clark, as host, would introduce rock and roll artists to the viewing audience, which were teens and their parents. Rock and Roll was in its infancy back then, and parents were a bit threatened by the music, so the show needed someone like Clark who was seen as a wholesome person, and a person who had a non-threatening presence to introduce the music and the artists who played it. Clark would introduce and interview artists like Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc. The show would also feature the teens in the audience getting on the dance floor, and dancing with each other. Clark had a really great rapport with the teens dancing.
Another thing about American Bandstand that I really admired was that the show became one way of breaking down racial barriers. The show would bring on African American artists such as Motown greats The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, etc. The show became among the first to feature blacks and whites on the same stage, and the seating became desegregated. This was during the late 50’s/early 60’s, and was very significant, as blacks were demanding their equal rights. It was not that Dick Clark, through the show, was doing this on purpose as a Civil Rights activist, but it was that he was using the music and letting the MUSIC do the talking, so to speak. In that sense, people were able to see that the music was a common bond between teens of all races. I thought this was a very big statement made by Dick Clark, without calling attention to himself. This breakdown of barriers was very significant for society as well.
The show was moved to Los Angeles in 1964, and captured the Southern California sound of bands like the Beach Boys, and started featuring live acts. Such live acts were Ike and Tina Turner, the previously mentioned Supremes, and Stevie Wonder, and Simon and Garfunkel. Many of the same acts appeared at the 50’th Anniversary show for American Bandstand in 2002. Dick Clark has not gone through his career without any honors though. He has received a Peabody Award in 1999, a Daytime Emmy Lifetime
Achievement Award in 1994, and four Emmys. He is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, and others.
As I said, Dick Clark had his stint with the 10,000 Pyramid, but the other famous show he is known for is the “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve,” which he has done since 1972. He has missed out on doing it just twice. The first time for the 1999/2000 when ABC did an hour long feature with Peter Jennings called “ABC 2000 Today,” and for 2004/2005 when he suffered a stroke in late 2004. When he returned to action in 2005/2006, his voice was noticeably hampered, but his spirit was not. It was so awesome to see him back. Even though “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest has had to come in to co host, Clark’s voice has improved each year, and he was doing great. It seemed like he would always ring in the new year.
For now……Mr. Clark………so long.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead