Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Day The Music Died

What to say about Dick Clark that hasn't been echoed and amplified over the past 60 years.
If The Ed Sullivan Show was the major leagues of rock and roll, then Dick Clark's American Bandstand was the entry draft. And in many ways, his was the better show for musicphiles.
Not that his taste was perfect: in 1963, he was offered the American rights to The Beatles' music and turned it down, saying they'd never amount to much. In case you were wondering why the Beatles never appeared on AB except in videos and a solitary taped telephone interview, that's why. Heck, even She Loves You scored badly on his segment Rate-A-Record, but it was undanceable, to be sure.  
But the list of acts that did appear on Bandstand is pretty impressive (Public Image, Ltd????) For many, it was the first national exposure (I hesitate to say that just after mentioning PiL.)
Clark's influence spread well beyond music, too, with his game and bloopers shows, both of which spawned an entire subset of entertainment programming that had laid dormant for years.
For me, Clark "died" when he had his stroke in 2004. His subsequent appearances-- particularly at New Year's Eve-- took great courage, but ultimately it only served to point up his former preternaturally youthful appearance and in many ways, parody it. He probably should have been one-and-done with that show, and retired gracefully.
Still, 60-odd years is a long time to stick around and still be relevant and he managed to pull it off. Godspeed, Dick.