Dick Clark and the Legacy of American Bandstand

Some days, it feels like we’ve been saying a lot of goodbyes to people in the entertainment industry.  Teena Marie, Amy Winehouse, Don Cornelius, Whitney Houston.  Maybe it is just that many of those leaving have been well-known or unexpected.  Hearing of Dick Clark’s passing—though he was a seasoned 82—struck me as both. 

Dubbed “America’s Oldest Teenager,” to several generations, he felt like one of us as a laid-back, music aficionado who loved what he did and lived for that love.  “American Bandstand” started locally, in Philadelphia, in 1952 and Clark took over as host in 1956.  The show was then broadcast nationally from 1957 to 1989.  Early on, Clark was known for providing a regular venue for black musical artists to perform, thus allowing them to gain more of a national following, and for supporting and playing the original R&B recordings of these artists.  Berry Gordy recently mentioned that Clark’s actions were instrumental in helping Motown gain the foothold and growth that it did.

We’ve had Dick Clark from the age of the sock hop, into the Motown years, through the Summer of Love, down deep doing disco, and back out for the triumph of Madonna and the ‘80s.  As part of a long career, we’ve enjoyed him as the host of several games shows, multiple television events handled by his production company, and to ring in the New Year since 1972. 

Only after his stroke seven years ago, did it feel like time and age were causing him to slow down a beat.  Yet even then he bounced back to still have a steady presence in our lives, and we continued to dream he’d be with us forever.  Clark once mentioned that his career was worthwhile if he was able to bring a bit of happiness to someone else.  That he did in spades. 

So now is not when I’ll shed tears for this music and entertainment pioneer.  It will be on December 31, 2012, when I know he won’t be sitting in his chair above Time Square, but hopefully resting in one a bit higher in the clouds and able to look down and know that he is missed.

A Tribute to Dick Clark (1929-2012) “American Bandstand”

One of my all-time favorite “American Bandstand” moments was Prince making his national television debut at age 19.  A late birthday present for me, he beamed onto our screens on January 26, 1980, in all his blown out hair, shirtless, and sexy gold pants wonder.  The fact that he had 11 years on me meant nothing.  I’m smiling right now thinking about how entranced I was that day and how my childhood squeals could be heard throughout the house. 

Who did you get a kick out of seeing on American Bandstand?  What are some of your favorite Bandstand moments?  What are your other Dick Clark memories?

Other Related Music News:

Image sources: USMagazine.com and AP Photo/file from 1993 American Music Award rehearsals

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10 Responses to Dick Clark and the Legacy of American Bandstand

  1. Wow, Dick Clark really has been there through all of music’s changes. You’re so right ~ come New Year’s Eve, he will be sorely missed. That video is a riot. I remember so much of those scenes! Well, not the 50’s or 60’s, but after that. Thanks for the great trip down memory lane.

    • I know, Tameri. He’s someone we’ve had all our lives so the loss really runs clear. I had AB almost all the way through high school. So many positive moments. To hear all the stars share now, it appears he was the same on screen and off.

  2. Definitely iconic!!! Wonderful tribute Barbara!!

  3. I loved watcing American Bandstand!! I loved seeing the people dance. My favorite episode was when Madonna was on!! 🙂 Great post, Barbara.

  4. Great tribute, Barb! I used to rush home from school to catch American Bandstand on our black and white tv. Those were early days!

    • You are lucky to remember the show from the earlier days. I’ve seen some of the black and white episodes and there is a lighthearted joy to the kids dancing. That went away a little bit as the decades past.

  5. We didn’t get American Bandstand here in Canada but still I knew about it, somehow. and new year’s eve won’t be the same. Wonderful tribute, Barb.

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