I’m on record with rock star Ian Hunter. He heard me say it, and he said that he hadn’t heard anything quite so right that night. Dick Clark is the anti-Christ. He tried to show himself as this innocent hip guy, but he was never really young and never really cool. Dick Clark would hire Adolph Hitler to host a game show called “Guess the Jew” if he was even somewhat convinced that he would make money on it in the long run. He is the squarest, fakest, slimiest presence in the world today, and he has been for over 50 years now. Here’s Dick’s story. He’s a lot like Hamlet’s murderous Uncle.
Once there was a DJ who truly understood and loved music. His name was Alan Freed. Ian Hunter used Freed’s voice as a tribute for the beginning of the original recording of that Drew Carey favorite, “Cleveland Rocks.” Supposedly, Freed coined the term rock and roll, although my guess is that Freed just started telling people that and nobody ever stopped to correct him.
Freed wasn’t exactly Mr. Clean. He took money for playing certain songs on his radio shows and he drank. The first was a common practice of the day, and the second was almost a rock and roll necessity. Nevertheless, he loved and supported music made by Black performers. Back in those days they had maggots like Pat Boone and the Crew Cuts who would record really white versions of tunes by Little Richard, Fats Domino, and many others. Most radio stations would play the sterile white version to the detriment of the exciting, talented Black creators of the day.
I heartily recommend that all of you listen to Pat Boone’s version of “Tutti Fruitti.” It remains today what it was back in the mid-'50s when he recorded it — the single funniest thing recorded since the invention of reproduced sound. Alan Freed was the "Jesus" of rock and roll. Dick Clark was his "Judas."
Eventually, largely because of Freed, the real music started to seep through. This scared the living crap out of "the man." What happened was that real rock and roll fought the law, and the law won. Clark did his best to help them, and make as much money off of it as he could.
You see Dick Clark was Herman from Herman’s Hermits and Alan Freed was Keith Richards. They both went before Congress accused of taking money for playing certain records. They called it payola. Freed was the number one target. It was almost like the Congress enforced a law no one had ever enforced before just to get him. Freed stood up for himself and they crippled him. Dick Clark smiled, assured Congress that he was the whitest man alive, and emerged as the man’s substitute for Alan Freed.
That was only "the man’s" first shot. Over the next few years or so they drafted Elvis, they killed Buddy Holly, they tossed Chuck Berry in jail, and scared Little Richard back into the church. Dick Clark replaced them with white teen idols like Fabian, Bobby Rydell, and Frankie Avalon. The establishment had set off a nuclear bomb on rock and roll and Dick Clark was the cockroach that survived and prospered.
On the very first day of American Bandstand, Dick Clark himself demanded that all artists lip sync on his program. He didn’t believe that the kids loved the music; he felt that the kids loved the record. The amount of live performances he could have preserved and inspired is achingly enormous.
Dick will try to tell you that he loves rock and roll, but what he really likes are ways to sell a bunch of crap to teenagers. You don’t hear him reminiscing about Chuck Berry and Little Richard. It’s always Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Andy Gibb, and whatever other noxious thing he promoted instead of supporting talented acts with something to say.
Dick Clark is such a piece of refuse that he will try to convince you that his game show, The $64,000 Pyramid was the intellectual equivalent and as important to broadcasting as Masterpiece Theater. There is no television show Dick Clark won’t be a part of if it can earn him a little more money. He's already almost as rich as Bill Gates but time and again he still needed to destroy and beat into the ground anything fun in modern society. What Dick will do is just what he learned from the ‘50s. He takes interesting ideas and whitens them up so he can ride a couple millions off the coattails of the real thing.
Am I making this up? He followed Who Wants to be a Millionaire seconds later with the appropriately titled Greed. He was upset that his pop playthings never got awards at the Grammy's, so he made his own show, The American Music Awards and based them not on quality but on whatever the right demographic he wanted liked.
Dick Clark’s whole career was predicated on destroying what is holy and innovative in our culture for as much money as he could get, and he should have been strung up for it. He didn't forever look amazingly 25. He just had the same moral IQ.
Final Proof (As If I Needed Some): Rock and Roll History, Part 17
Dick Clark. You know I hate him and that you should too. Anyone else ever see the E! Show where they rank the top 25 things about Elvis? Number one was the song "Hound Dog." Now Elvis did two very famous television performances of the song "Hound Dog."
The first was just unreal. Elvis really went wild. He stretched the song out for an extra three minutes of hip-grinding madness. The girls were just going bonkers. Well, that just made the whole nation completely insane. Elvis is lewd. Elvis is dirty. Ban Elvis. Film Elvis only from the waist up.
Elvis’ next appearance was on the Steve Allen Show. Steve Allen was very vocal about his hate for rock and roll back then and he decided to strike back at Elvis. I’m not sure why Elvis’ manager let it happen (Col. Tom Parker mistake number #4000) but Steve Allen made Elvis dress up in a white tuxedo and sing to a basset hound. Elvis couldn’t dance in the tails so he did his best to laugh it off and sang to the dog despite his likely anger and embarrassment.
So how do I know for sure that Dick Clark hates real rock and roll?
“When I think of Elvis singing "Hound Dog," I always remember him on the Steve Allen Show in that white tuxedo.”
Nice choice, Dick.