Long before MTV, VH-1, iTunes and You Tube, “American Bandstand” was where young people went for the latest popular music. As the host of
“Bandstand” Dick Clark was the man responsible for introducing America to everyone from Elvis Presley to Madonna.
For over 30 years Clark, often called “America’s oldest living teenager,” brought the latest music, dances and fashion into homes around the country like an old friend who always seemed to know what everyone wanted to see and hear before they even knew it.
Clark passed away from a heart attack at the age 82 on April 18.
Clark began on “Bandstand” in 1956, taking it national in 1957. From that point on every major music act appeared on the show.
Clark’s chemistry with the dancers and his non-threatening image helped rock and roll music reach a wider audience at a time when it was considered immoral. He also had African-American artists on mainstream television and had integrated dancing with black and white teenagers when segregation was still the accepted practice. As such he is often credited with changing the course of popular music.
Following his success on “American Bandstand” Clark branched out and began to build a TV empire that included “The $10,000 Pyramid,” “The American Music Awards,” “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” and of course “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve.”
Since 1972, Clark’s annual countdown from Times Square has been the benchmark of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Following his stroke in 2004 Clark missed that year’s show but returned in 2005 and has co-hosted every year since with Ryan Seacrest.
Seacrest has often been compared to Clark and remembered his mentor in a statement.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life,” Seacrest said. “I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel.”
As word of his passing hit the Internet, many fans responded via Twitter that New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be the same without Clark.
Clark’s loss and iconic status was commented on in a statement by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
“With ‘American Bandstand,’ he introduced decades’ worth of viewers to the music of our times. He reshaped the television landscape forever as a creative and innovative producer. And, of course, for 40 years, we welcomed him into our homes to ring in the New Year,” Obama said. “But more important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel – as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was. As we say a final ‘so long’ to Dick Clark, America’s oldest teenager, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends – which number far more than he knew.”
For nearly 60 years Dick Clark has been a television staple. He kept America dancing and laughing through some of its hardest times. The legacy of his contributions simply cannot be measured, however they can be seen in the success of programs like “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” none of which would have been possible without Clark paving the way.