Dick Clark never seemed to age and, to many of us, he was the eternal teenager. Transfixed as America is with youth and its culture, Clark seemed to transcend generational boundaries and appeal to an audience across decades and musical genres. He remained until his death a beloved figure; more importantly, he leaves a musical legacy that will not be forgotten.
If you mention American Bandstand to people of a certain age (over 45), they will remember fondly watching a show that brought their favorite musical acts to TV. Bandstand lasted 30 years (1957-1987) and brought diverse acts to the viewing public like Buddy Holly, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. I know as a kid that I took for granted that when I turned on the TV on a Saturday morning that Dick would be there, and the funny thing is that our parents liked Dick (and by default the groups and singers appearing on his show) almost as much as we did.
If Bandstand wasn’t enough, Clark also founded a production company and had a hand in making many other hit shows. He also brought to us a wonderful new concept: Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. This show also became a historic broadcast each year, finally giving the kids some alternative to their parents listening to Guy Lombardo. It was immediately a hit and certified his legacy as a rock and roll pioneer and ultimately a legend.
In later years Dick had the stroke (2004) and that impaired his speaking ability, but he bounced back and hosted the New Year’s Eve show each year with able assistance from American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest. Since there are many other shows that have tried to be like Clark’s New Year’s show over the years, its impact may have been diminished, but I still tuned every year to see Dick before, during, and after the ball in NYC’s Times Square dropped.
Needless to say, New Year’s Eve will never be the same without Dick Clark. The man changed television and rock and roll—not a bad legacy. He was also a genuine good guy and well liked by all, and you could tell that his musical guests on Bandstand were as happy to sign that wall as they were to appear on the show.
So bye, bye, Mr. American Pie. Rest in peace, Dick Clark.
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