If you don’t have a good Dick Clark memory, then you missed out on one of the great American institutions. No, he wasn’t groundbreaking like Alan Freed, or mysterious and borderline crazy like Wolfman Jack, or charismatic like Don Cornelius. If those three were the crazy flavors of the day, then Dick Clark was the vanilla. But whether you thought he was square, or the establishment, or perhaps even a government spy, the fact of the matter is that for more than three decades, he served up a weekly dish of rock, pop and soul music – some forgettable, but much of hall of fame quality – that was almost like a living time capsule in its ability to capture the zeitgeist. Consider just these few examples:
- Clark interviewing John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969
- Clark interviewing Van Morrison in 1967
- Clark interviewing Stevie Wonder in 1969
- Go Gos performing in 1982, proving that Belinda Carlisle may be the worst lip-syncer of all time
But most of all, “American Bandstand” was a bunch of kids dancing, to the hits of the day:
And throughout it all, Dick Clark was there, treating the kids without condescension, and treating the artists with the utmost respect, whether they were titans or bands/singers that you were not likely to see again. And whether it was an act or genuine hardly mattered – Dick Clark made it seem genuine (for what it’s worth, I think it was), and was so good at it that watching became a habit.
And though “Bandstand” was his crowning achievement, one cannot forget his enormously successful stint as a game-show host (on “$25,000 Pyramid, still my all-time favorite game show), or as the host of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” on which he continued to make an appearance long after the physical and mental strength to do so had left his body. But that too was a testament to his professionalism. And Dick Clark was the consummate professional.