Dick Clark passed away on April 18 at the age of 82. It signifies the end of an era in rock and roll. When I say end of an era, I mean he was one of the last—if not the last—link to rock’s Golden Age (Jerry Lee Lewis also comes to mind, a man who wrote Clark off when Clark stopped playing his records after Lewis’ personal life made headlines in 1958).
For more than 30 years, Clark was the guy giving those artists their first breaks, and defending them against disapproving parents. He’s also the one common thread in many people’s early memories of pop music. My parents. Me. Anyone born in the ’80s. Dick Clark was a square, but he still managed to introduce to the world a wide range of artists, including Buddy Holly, Public Image Ltd, Run-D.M.C., Little Richard, X, Conway Twitty, Sparks, The Jam, Madonna, The Seeds, Def Leppard, Captain Beefheart, Chubby Checker … the amazing list goes on.
American Bandstand was as big a part of my Saturday mornings as Looney Tunes. The Barry Manilow version of “Bandstand Boogie” was burned into my tender gray matter for years. And while Clark’s Bandstand came to an end in 1989, and he became more associated with bloopers, $10,000 Pyramids and New Year’s Eve countdowns (not to mention the now infamous scene in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine), he was—and always will be—the World’s Oldest Teenager. Appreciate that for what it is. It’s a position that will probably never be filled.
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