QUESTION: How many lives has American Rock N' Roll touched?
How many careers did Dick Clark launch or foster?
How many of the millions of watchers of the 7,500-plus shows he produced had moments of happiness and memories that lasted a lifetime because of those shows?
I never met the man. I never actually pursued it. And it's ironic, because all these tributes and testimonials I have been reading were by people I have known for years! Legends like Little Anthony, Neil Sedaka, Danny & The Juniors, Frankie Avalon, Frankie Valli, Tom Dreesen, Mary Wilson, Pat Boone, James Darren, Nancy Sinatra ... the list goes on and on. All good friends of ours, and all who attribute their careers to Dick Clark.
I didn't even approach my good buddy, the late Ed McMahon and former television partner of Dick's whose gift of a video of him saying, "And now, heeeeeeeere's Ronnie" in the same vein as Johnny Carson is one of my most treasured possessions. Man, I should have asked him for the introduction.
At each of our shows, I always try to facilitate fans' meet and greet with the stars. After they nervously shake their hand, take a photo and get an autograph, they usually thank me for helping them with the "bucket list" item of meeting their idol.
Again, a bit of irony, as Dick Clark was on MY bucket list. He epitomized what I wanted to be when I grew up. A well respected and widely loved conduit between music and the masses. Not an actual performer, yet an entertainer in his own right. He was somebody who brought joy to millions via song, dance and a familiar smile.
I think I never really pursued the intro because inside I kind of felt a warm familiarity with him. With so many single degrees of separation between us, coupled with the too-many-to-count times I saw him on one show or another, it was as if he was by my house for pasta the night before.
With all those fabulous Rock N' Roll moments we all witnessed over the years, I think my favorite Dick Clark moment was his last "New Year's Rockin' Eve special, this past December thirty-first. Still handsome with the boyish good looks, he struggled with his speech after a terrible stroke. He kept his dignity though, and also kept his tradition of kissing his beloved wife at midnight. Although the kiss was physically awkward for him, he did it with a passion I have rarely seen. It showed a love that not even a massive stroke could stifle.
It seems the legacy of rock stars gets grander upon their death. Their music lives on for generations. Their images get plastered on coffee mugs and mouse pads and refrigerator magnets. But guys like Dick Clark usually don't have that kind of staying power. My seven-year-old daughter will grow up and know who Sinatra, Elvis and Michael were.
I will do my best to tell her about Dick Clark and American Bandstand. More importantly, I'll tell her to be aggressive in pursuing her "bucket list."
Thanks, Ron ... beautiful sentiment. (kk)
I'm sure you will receive a number of notes about Dick Clark's passing.
Dick and I were partners in the United Stations / Unistar radio networks for fifteen years. He was a rare combination of talent and businessman; perhaps the best. Growing up, I had really appreciated Bandstand and his Saturday Beech-nut show, because they were about the only opportunity to see rock and roll on tv in the late 50s. When I got in the business and met the artists from that era, I soon found out how important that show was to so many of them, as deejays around the country picked up on the records that Dick played on the show. That was certainly the case for my fellow Pittsburghers, The Skyliners and their first hit "Since I Don't Have You". Dick may have done more to bring rock and roll into the mainstream than anyone; he took it into living rooms all over the country with his tv shows (rather than just the transistor radio under the covers) and kept the music alive through our "Rock, Roll and Remember" radio show.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Dick Clark - Part 3
More Dick Clark Memories ...