Thursday, April 19, 2012

RIP Dick Clark

RIP Dick Clark

Dick Clark, the music industry maverick, the long time TV host and powerhouse producer who changed the way people listened to pop music with "American Bandstand" and whose trademark "Rockin' Eve" became a fixture of everyones New Year's celebrations, died yesterday at the age of 82. He has said to have suffered a massive heart attack.

Born in Mt. Vernon NY, he began his career in show business while he was still in high school when he landed a gig at a radio station ran by his father and uncle. He worked his way up the ranks until he became an on air talent. He took that talent to Philadelphia where he landed a gig as a DJ in 1952, spinning records for a show called "Dick Clark's Caravan of Music". It was here he broke into the big time, hosting Bandstand, an afternoon dance show for teenagers. Within five years the entire country was watching the show, ABC took it national and "American Bandstand" was born.

The entire shows premise was quite simple. Clean cut boys and girls danced to the hottest hits and the newest singles. In between, Clark chatted up with the teens who helped 'rate-a-record' turning songs into instant sensations. Everyone showed up on "American Bandstand", from Elvis to Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry to Chubby Checker. 

When Clark moved to Hollywood in 1963, bandstand moved with him. He started his famous Dick Clark Production company and began cranking out one hit show after another. Everything from $25,000 Pyramid, to TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes to the American Music Awards. And finally in 1972, Clark put his name behind one of the biggest nights of the year. 

Clark hosted "New Year's Rocking Eve" for almost three decades. He would introduce musical acts, talk to the people in the crowd and most importantly do the countdown when the ball would drop in times square at midnight. The tradition was temporary stopped in 2004 when Clark suffered a stroke and was unable to make it that year. Fortunately he was able to make it back the following year, speech impaired and all. 

All this earned Clark a long list of awards: He has Emmys, Grammy's, an induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also one of the richest men in Hollywood; he had stakes in a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, theatres and real estate. 

Clark, whose eternally youthful look earned him the nickname "Americas Oldest Teenager" is survived by his three children and his third wife, who he has been married to since 1977. 

Now the legendary 'teenager' is gone. He leaves behind an indelible mark on generations of fans and can rest easy knowing that he changed the face of rock n roll and TV forever. You will never be forgotten. R.I.P.

Here are some of my favorite American Bandstand Interviews: 

In 1984, Madonna looked him in the face and said her goal was "to rule the world":

Here is one with Stevie Wonder in 1969:

And finally probably my most famous "American Bandstand" performance/interview in the history of the show.... the Jackson 5. 

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