The preference is to write about the living, but too often the conclusion of a great life reminds you of all they contributed. We remember Dick Clark.
Ryan Seacrest may not really realize it as he reaches mogulness, or maybe he actually studied from the master, but Dick Clark’s trailblazing in hosting, innovating, creating, developing and performing is the ultimate benchmark.
For an entire generation of Americans he counted down songs while introducing the latest in dance and style. Musical genres appeared in fair balance and he made whatever music he hosted acceptable for the viewing audience. Chubby Checker’s “Twist” phenomenon can be traced back to television and “Bandstand.”
“I played records, the kids danced, and America watched” Clark said.
The New York Times wrote: As the host of the television after-school dance program “American Bandstand” he made an ideal surrogate chaperone: a wholesome, polite, honorary adolescent. Although he was 27 when the program was first broadcast nationally on Aug. 5, 1957, he could have passed for 17. At the time he seemed the sort of mild-mannered superannuated boy who might once have served on the school safety patrol and been elected class treasurer.
Clark never apologized about catering to the mainstream. When Lloyd Price’s version of “Stagger Lee” was climbing the charts, Clark refused to have him on the show until a cleaner version was recorded. Nonetheless, in hosting “Bandstand” for over thirty years he was a part of the transformation of Rock ‘n’ Roll presenting artists from Jerry Lee Lewis to Michael Jackson to David Byrne to Johnny Lydon. The show provided instant hits for Chuck Berry, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Stevie Wonder, Cash, Turner, Holly and Otis Redding and more. In an interview with Clark by Henry Schipper of Rolling Stone Magazine, it was noted that “over two-thirds of the people who’ve been initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame had their television debuts on American Bandstand, and the rest of them probably debuted on other shows Clark produced.
“That same spirit continued as a part of Dick Clark Productions and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” “I don’t make culture. I sell it,” he told Forbes magazine in 1996.
From Miss Universe to the Award shows to the $10,000 Pyramid he touched every time slot of American Television and made a lasting impact. So, with a proper salute … “For now, Dick Clark … so long.”