For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee…
Last Wednesday, the world lost another legend in modern music. Dick Clark played records as opposed to instruments in the beginning of his career, but through a series of events, he would come to form a lasting impact not only on the Billboard charts, but throughout the entire world of television entertainment. Clark even made New Year’s Eve in New York’s Time Square something to look forward to, even if you weren’t there to see the ball drop in person.
This week’s Music Monday is honour of Dick Clark’s memory.
Richard Wagstaff “Dick” Clark entered this world 30 November 1929 in Bronxville, New York, just north of Manhattan. By the end of World War II — a war that claimed the life of his only sibling — Clark began his career in the mailroom of WRUN (now WUTI) in Rome, New York, then owned and operated by his father and uncle. Almost immediately, he filled in for a vacationing weatherman, followed by announcing station breaks. Clark would bounce around from station to station for the next few years, until he landed in Philadelphia in 1952.
By 1956, Clark began hosting full-time what would by 1957 come to be called American Bandstand, taking over when the prior host was fired for drunk driving. The ABC television network picked up the show, debuting it nationally 5 August 1957 with an interview featuring Elvis Presley. Due to the nature of Clark’s presentation style and the participants — teenagers — the show became hugely popular, especially among the parents who were trying to understand what all rock and roll music was about.
Toward the mid-1960s, Clark moved the show to Los Angeles in order to catch the wave of surf rockers such as The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, and would remain in LA until the last episode in 1989. Through it all, 10,000 artists had appeared on American Bandstand, ranging from the psychedelic rock of the late 1960s and the disco era of the late 1970s, to the New Wave and synthpop of the early to mid-1980s.
Aside from American Bandstand, Clark also produced a number of other shows — including Pyramid, the Golden Globes and Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve — through his production company Dick Clark Productions, established in 1957.
In December 2004, Clark suffered from a stroke that would, ultimately, take away a part of his voice for the rest of his life. The television and radio icon would make appearances for the remainder of the previous decade, with his final appearance being on New Year’s Eve 2011/2012 as a producer of his end-of-year celebration, the torch having been passed onto Ryan Seacrest in 2009 when the latter became the show’s new host.
I leave you all with the last time Clark ever counted down to the New Year, which occurred during the passing from 2010 into 2011, his voice absent during the countdown into 2012.
Au revoir, Monsieur Clark.