I called home this afternoon to shoot the breeze with my mother and the first thing she said to me was Dick Clark had died. I suppose it wasn’t unexpected, because he was 82, he had a massive stroke in 2004, and he just wasn’t seen in public much anymore. Yes, he appeared, pre-taped, on the last few “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” but he wasn’t the same. His voice was dramatically altered from the stroke, but he tried his best to ramp up the same energy his audience was expecting. It’s not the Dick Clark I’ll remember.
I’ll remember Clark on American Bandstand and Barry Manilow’s infectious theme song.
Every Saturday morning on ABC, after cartoons, there was a crowd of teenagers and probably twentysomethings dancing their tails off. I loved it! One portion of the show I’ll always remember is “Rate-a-Record”. Clark would pull two kids out of the audience and have them take a listen to two songs and then the top rated one would win. I would say 90 percent of the songs featured were geared toward getting the crowd to groove along.
The only part I never quite understood was the ratings system. They would take the individuals ratings of each song, then average them. But one person would pick 83 and the other would pick 76, weird. Here’s an example from 1988, I don’t remember either song being a hit. And the fashions are to die for!
Perhaps Clark’s biggest contribution to pop music history, the acts he introduced us to. American Bandstand starting airing in 1952, my Dad was barely a year old, and my Mom was born in March of that year. Clark introduced African-American artists to teens all over the country, so he started a little revolution. Here’s one act I remember seeing on the show.
Today, music is all about finding the next Wham! or the next Madonna, which is the next logical step, so it’s not ironic Ryan Seacrest pretty much took over for Clark. Sorry Seacrest, you can produce shows, be on the radio and annoy me on American Idol but you’ll NEVER be Dick Clark. Rest in peace Mr. Clark, you’ll be missed.