Dick Clark, who introduced U.S. to countless pop acts, dies at 82
By THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org April 18, 2012 9:02PM
“American Bandstand” host Dick Clark sorts through singles in a Philadelphia radio station’s library in 1959. | AP
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:42AM
A young Dick Clark — was there any other kind? — was once pictured underneath a bold headline: “He thinks his show will last 30 years.”
Mr. Clark hit that goal on the nose. The original “American Bandstand” was one of network TV’s longest-running series, airing on ABC from 1957 to 1987 and in syndication a short while after that.
In 1985, his optimism was bolder. “I say the show will be on forever,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times then. “I think it will be on as long as there is television.”
Given his nickname, “The World’s Oldest Teenager,” and his perpetually youthful appearance, that prognostication once seemed perfectly plausible.
But Mr. Clark, surprisingly, didn’t live forever. He died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 82.
Mr. Clark’s career included dozens of TV and music ventures, including “The $25,000 Pyramid,” “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” the American Music Awards and all those rockin’ New Year’s Eves.
“There’s hardly any segment of the population that doesn’t see what I do,” Mr. Clark told the AP in 1985. “It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, ‘I love your show,’ and I have no idea which one they’re talking about.”
Those 30 years of “Bandstand,” though, were Mr. Clark’s greatest musical impact, bringing a bevy of rock and pop acts into the mainstream. “AB” was the A-to-Z TV showcase for performers in the 1950s (Bill Haley & His Comets, Buddy Holly & the Crickets); ’60s (the Temptations, Ike & Tina Turner); ’70s (Mac Davis, Dr. Hook), and ’80s (a-ha, Adam Ant).
“Bandstand” ushered rock into a crucial space where it wasn’t always welcome but eventually conquered — living rooms — and fertilized the culture for the next step in the marriage of music and television, MTV, which eventually and perhaps inevitably made “Bandstand” irrelevant.
Three “Bandstand” memories leap immediately to mind: (1) Madonna declaring during her in-show interview in 1984 that she fully intended to rule the world; (2) a highly reticent David Byrne confounding Mr. Clark’s attempts to conduct a chatty interview in 1979, and (3) several appearances by Dwight Twilley (with the late great Phil Seymour and a rail-thin, leotarded Tom Petty playing bass).
“The music, the people and the show is part of practically everybody’s life who grew up in this country in the last 30 years, and we all share a piece of it,” Mr. Clark told the Sun-Times in 1985. “This show is very much like leafing through the family album.”