Dick Clark, also known as “America’s Oldest Teenager” had a huge hand in using television to bring
music artists to the masses.
Clark took over hosting duties on American Bandstand in 1956 1. The show featured teenagers dancing while records were played. Clark would interview the fans and find out how they would rate the records on a segment called “Rate-A-Record.” Each episode also featured a music artist performing “live.” Okay, so they were lip synching, but it was still a unique way for America’s youth to watch these artists and see the songs in a (sort of) live setting. B. B. King was the only performer ever to not lip sync on the show 2.
In a time before Total Request Live, or VH1’s Storytellers, or MTV’s Unplugged, American Bandstandwas a way for people to tune in and watch musicians perform in their living room. It functioned as a gap between the radio generation and the MTV generation. Music artists were able to make the transition from only being heard, to being seen. The show’s success was very much due to Dick Clark’s hosting ability. After took over hosting duties from Bob Horn, the show got picked up by ABC and was broadcasted nationally.
Clark worked his way up this job. He started in the mail room of a Utica, NY radio station, where he then was bumped up to weatherman and news reporter 1. He worked at several other radio stations
before filling in occasionally on Horn’s Bandstand.
Clark ended his run on American Bandstand in 19884.He continued to showcase music throughout his life. Clark once said “Music is the soundtrack of your life” 3. And he made it the soundtrack of his career. From American Bandstand, he hosted The Dick Clark Show, and more recently has been known for Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve. Unfortunately, Clark suffered a stroke in 2004, but continued to host New Year’s Eve from 2006 until he passed away in 2011.
See Dick Clark interview The Beach Boys on American Bandstand below:
What are your memories of Dick Clark? What other influential figures/companies can you think of that helped bring music to television? Let me know in the comments!