1993 Hall of Fame Inductee and famed host of American Bandstand, Dick Clark, passed away on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. He was 82.
Affectionately known as “America’s oldest teenager,” Clark was significant in transforming the record business into an international industry. As host of American Bandstand, Clark provided many acts with the opportunity to reach a national audience via television, spreading the gospel of rock and roll to teenagers across the country.
Born Richard W. Clark in 1929, he entered the music business as a sales manager for an upstate New York radio station at age 17. In 1952, he began doing a radio show ("Caravan of Music") at WFIL in Philadelphia. The station’s TV affiliate had a teen-oriented show called Bandstand that was taken over in 1956 by Clark. He was such an affable, magnetic host that Bandstand was picked up for national distribution by ABC in 1957. With Clark as businessman, personality, music lover and host, American Bandstand catapulted to popularity and, in 1996, celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Although his demeanor was low-key and agreeable, Clark did not shrink when it came time to defend rock and roll. He stood up for the music when it was under attack from censorious voices who branded it immoral. Such figures as Buddy Holly and James Brown made their national debut on American Bandstand. The show’s success helped spread the word throughout the entertainment industry that rock and roll was no fluke.
Although Clark subsequently moved on to other areas of TV that had little to do with music, his weekly televised record hops – which predated MTV by 25 years – played an integral role in establishing rock and roll, keeping it alive and shaping its future. For more than 30 years, he was a fixture on December 31, as television viewers across the country tuned in to Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC.
With the passing of Dick Clark, we lost a real hero who had untold influence on both world culture and the art form we call rock and roll. Clark was a trendsetter who helped guide our tastes in music, dance and fashion for more than three decades. His show American Bandstand was instrumental in showing the world that rock and roll was here to stay.