I wasn’t really surprised when I heard the news that Dick Clark had died. He had
been ill for many years. Still, it doesn’t take away the fact that a great man will soon be laid to rest.
Known by millions as the host of “American Bandstand,” Dick Clark was a familiar face Saturday mornings during my childhood years. As we watched the show, we had no way of knowing the impact his show would have on the world. Most of the artists spotlighted skyrocketed to fame, if they weren’t already there.
A massive heart attack April 18 took the life of the 82-year-old Clark. He was remembered fondly as a private person who hated goodbyes, and would salute the audience and say, “So long,” after every show.
A lot of musicians got their big breaks on Bandstand and it’s fun to look back and remember how much that music meant to me. It really was a part of American history. Watching the show, realizing how music has evolved over the years also holds insight into the minds of the American teenagers over the years.
Though I grew up with American Bandstand, there were still a few things I didn’t know about the show:
Richard Wagstaff Clark was born November 30, 1929 in Mount Vernon, New York. In 1956, Clark became the host of American Bandstand, (aired on television from 1952 to 1989) a show that featured Top 40 musical artists who would lip sync to their hits.
Bob Horn was the original host from 1952 to 1956 but was fired after a drunk driving arrest. Clark took over and made it the top show watched by teens for years.
The show inspired other shows such as Soul Train and Solid Gold.
The Bandstand theme music was originally “High Society” by Artie Shaw but saw various changes throughout the years. Barry Manilow’s “Bandstand Boogie” took over in 1977 to open and close the show until it’s 1977 until it went into syndication in 1987. After that, an instrumental version replaced it. “Bandstand Boogie,” was originally recorded for Manilow’s “Tryin’ to get the Feeling,” soundtrack.
I have a lot of fond memories from my younger days, with Bandstand being one of them. Watching the Jackson Five and other iconic musical groups, I was too young to understand the history that was in the making.
After American Bandstand went off the air, Clark went on to host the $20,000 Pyramid and the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but he will forever live in the hearts of many as the host of American Bandstand, “America’s oldest teenager.”