Posted on 4/18/2012
Written by James Downing
There comes a time when most kids graduate from watching cartoons to listening to music. For me, that happened in the late 60′s and early 70′s. There was one man that helped me make that transition and that was Dick Clark. Everyday Saturday after the cartoons were over, “American Bandstand” was a show I never missed. On that show you could see what songs were popular that week, see your favorite rock and roll stars and watch teenagers dance to the top hits of the day.
Dick Clark got his start in show business at WRUN in New York working in the mailroom. He was quickly promoted to the station’s weatherman and soon after that a news anchor. In 1952 he moved to WFIL in Philadelphia. Dick became the substitute host of a popular local show called “Bob Horn’s Bandstand”. When Horn decided to leave the show Clark was moved up to full time host in 1956. Because of Clark’s popularity the show was picked up for distribution by ABC and from there he never looked back.
One thing that made “American Bandstand” stand out among other shows like it was Clark’s requirement that all the dancers on the show to dress formal in nice skirts for the ladies and jackets for the guys. He also had a special talent that not many people in music possess. That is the ability to pick a hit record. This along with top-notch guests and segments such as the “Rate A Record” drew millions of teenagers to watch the show each week.
Clark began to invest a lot of money into the music industry. When the big payola scandal hit in the late 50′s, Clark said that he was unaware of any performers that he had invested in had been given any special treatment or airplay by him. Despite this big shake up in the music industry Clark and “American Bandstand” continued to gain popularity and was shown every weekday afternoon until 1963. That year the show changed to a weekly show on Saturday afternoons and was moved to Hollywood, California. After the move to Los Angeles, the entertainment capitol of the world, Clark formed Dick Clark Productions. This company produced many music based TV movies such as “Elvis And The Colonel”, “The Birth Of The Beatles”, “Wild In The Streets” and “Elvis”. He also felt like The Grammy awards were not in tune with America’s youth and created The American Music Awards. Because of the fact that it is geared more towards the younger music fans, The American Music Awards often get better ratings than that of The Grammy Awards.
Dick Clark didn’t just have involvement in music related projects. His TV game show “The 25,000 Pyramid” was a huge hit every weekday afternoon. Clark hosted the show. Each week a different pair of stars were teamed up with constants working their way up to the top of the pyramid for the grand prize. When the show got pitted against “Jeopardy” the ratings went down and the show was cancelled by CBS but was quickly picked up by ABC. The first show on ABC featured William Shatner and June Lockhart. There have been several different hosts of the show over the years including John Davidson, Bill Cullen and Donny Osmond. Like “American Bandstand”, Dick Clark created another television show that has become a staple in the television history books, “Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve”. The show is broadcast each year on New Years Eve as the city of New York gathers at Times Square to ring in the New Year.Another show from Dick Clark Productions was “TV’s Bloopers And Practical Jokes” once again hosted by Dick himself. He had a co-host on this show, Ed McMahon. There were several shows that popped up on other networks but none of them could match the ratings that Clark’s show drew.
While still working on “TV’s Bloopers And Practical Jokes” Clark suffered a stroke in 2004 and Regis Philbin hosted “New Years Rockin Eve” that year. The next year he returned to the show with Ryan Seacrest as co-host. I found it very hard to watch one of my idols having problems talking after his stroke. I know Dick wanted to do the show but it got to me so bad that I sometimes had to switch the channel for a few minutes until he finished. Any one growing up in the 60′s thru the 80′s owe a lot to this man. He brought rock music into our homes each and every week. This was before shows like “The Midnight Special” and “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert”. He told America it was ok for white kids to listen to black music. And more than anything, he brought a smile to everyone’s face that watched. I am sure that there is an “American Bandstand” up there in the heavens somewhere with Dick Clark be right there introducing the acts as only he can. We will miss your magic Mr Clark!
Written by James Downing
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Tags: American Bandstand, Birth of the Beatles, Dick Clark, Dick Clark death, Dick Clark Productions, Dick Clark's New Years Rockin Eve, Donny Osmond, Ed McMahon, Elvis And The Colonel, Philadelphia, remembering Dick Clark, WFIL