Rock 'n' roll's ambassador

Dick Clark left a lasting impression on our popular culture

  • Follow Editorials

Generations of music-craving, TV-watching kids almost could have grown up watching Bob Horn’s Bandstand.

But when Horn, a popular Philadelphia-area media personality, was convicted of drunken driving in 1956, the duties of hosting his popular regional TV dance show fell to the part-time host, a disc jockey at a sister radio station.

That DJ was Dick Clark.

And Dick Clark went on to forever change how America enjoyed popular music.

Clark died Wednesday at age 82. But much of what he touched professionally is vibrantly alive.

Less than a year after taking over as Bandstand’s host, Clark pitched the idea to ABC to take the show nationwide. That historic programming move bestowed upon Clark an ambassadorship for rock ’n’ roll, at a time when the young music genre faced much public scorn.

Clark conveyed the clean-cut image rock music needed to elevate it to legitimacy. American Bandstand found its way into millions of homes before leaving the air in 1989. Clark fused music and television into a new brand of entertainment decades before MTV managed to get around to it.

But beyond that historic show, Clark’s media company also loomed large. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, writes Forbes magazine, Clark’s company “is responsible for more than 7,500 hours of television programming, including over 30 series and 250 specials, plus more than 20 movies for theater and television.”

How big of an impact did he have on pop culture? On another show, The Dick Clark Show, from 1958 to 1960, he would dramatically count down the 10 most popular songs for the coming week.

That’s right. You see such lists everywhere now, but many people credit Clark for creating the very first top-10 list.

The fresh-faced Clark lived up to his moniker “America’s oldest teenager,” and will be missed.

Comments (3) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Techfan 04/21/12 - 07:15 am
Also R.I.P. to Levon Helm and

Also R.I.P. to Levon Helm and Greg Ham.

Riverman1 04/21/12 - 07:51 am
Bandstand, bandstand,

Bandstand, bandstand, bandstand. We're going hoppin, we're going happin...

Bandstand hit us all in those young years that stay with us forever. Those girls and guys dancing looked so cool. Dick Clark always looked out of place around those kids and rock performers, but maybe that was the idea. A clean cut figure to legitimize the others and the music for regular TV stations where the signal strength and rabbit ears were all powerful.

Bizkit 04/21/12 - 08:06 am
Dick was an american icon. I

Dick was an american icon. I too agree with Tech with Levon Helm who was a fantastic singer and drummer , and actor. He had battled cancer since the late 90s

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs