REMEMBERING OUR FRIEND DICK CLARK
"As a little boy I sat transfixed to our television every afternoon and Saturday night watching American Bandstand. Dick Clark was the face of rock and roll and it's best ambassador. His decades of successes both in and outside of the music industry are unparalleled. He championed KISS when others turned away and was instrumental in breaking us through his show "...In Concert". Through the years Dick was always available when I had a question or wanted guidance. Dick Clark was the rare exception who was a bigger person in real life than the public image or legend that was also to be his legacy. I will remember him with great respect and gratitude."
- Paul Stanley
Associated Press story on Dick Clark:
Dick Clark, the ever-youthful television host and tireless entrepreneur who helped bring rock 'n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," and later produced and hosted a vast range of programming from game shows to the year-end countdown in Times Square on "New Year's Rockin' Eve," has died. He was 82.
Spokesman Paul Shefrin said Mr. Clark had a heart attack Wednesday morning at Saint John's hospital in Santa Monica, a day after he was admitted for an outpatient procedure.
Mr. Clark had continued performing even after he suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.
Long dubbed "the world's oldest teenager" because of his boyish appearance, Mr. Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business, and was equally comfortable whether chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon about TV bloopers.
He thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more to TV. Among his credits: "The $25,000 Pyramid," "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and the American Music Awards.
For a time in the 1980s, he had shows on all three networks and was listed among the Forbes 400 of wealthiest Americans. Mr. Clark also was part of radio as partner in the United Stations Radio Network, which provided programs—including Mr. Clark's—to thousands of stations.
"There's hardly any segment of the population that doesn't see what I do," Mr. Clark told the Associated Press in a 1985 interview. "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."
The original "American Bandstand" was one of network TV's longest-running series as part of ABC's daytime lineup from 1957 to 1987. It later aired for a year in syndication and briefly on the USA Network. Over the years, it introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Madonna. The show's status as an American cultural institution was solidified when Mr. Clark donated Bandstand's original podium and backdrop to the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Clark joined "Bandstand" in 1956 after Bob Horn, who had been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under Mr. Clark's guidance, it went from a local Philadelphia show to a national phenomenon.
As a host, he had the smooth delivery of a seasoned radio announcer. As a producer, he had an ear for a hit record. He also knew how to make wary adults welcome this odd new breed of music in their homes.
Mr. Clark endured accusations that he was in with the "squares," with critic Lester Bangs defining Bandstand as "a leggily acceptable euphemism of the teenage experience." In a 1985 interview, Mr. Clark acknowledged the complaints. "But I knew at the time that if we didn't make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it."
"So along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the Platters and the Crows and the Jayhawks...the boys wore coats and ties and the girls combed their hair and they all looked like sweet little kids into a high-school dance," he said.
But Mr. Clark defended pop artists and artistic freedom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said in an online biography of the 1993 inductee. He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he condemned censorship.
His stroke in December 2004 forced him to miss his annual appearance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." He returned the following year and, although his speech at times was difficult to understand, many praised his bravery, including other stroke victims.
Still speaking with difficulty, he continued taking part in his New Year's shows, though in a diminished role. Ryan Seacrest became the main host.
He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: "I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I've been truly blessed."
He was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929. His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.
Mr. Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years' experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Mr. Clark befriended Ed McMahon, who later credited Mr. Clark for introducing him to his future "Tonight Show" boss, Johnny Carson.
In the 1960s, "American Bandstand" moved from black-and-white to color, from weekday broadcasts to once-a-week Saturday shows and from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Although its influence started to ebb, it still featured some of the biggest stars of each decade, whether Janis Joplin, the Jackson 5, Talking Heads or Prince.
But Mr. Clark never did book two of rock's iconic groups, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Elvis Presley also never performed, although Mr. Clark managed an on-air telephone interview while Mr. Presley was in the Army.