Dick Clark remembered: He made kids, their music 'stars of the show'
With news of Dick Clark’s death Wednesday came reaction from the music and television world and points in between.
Starting in Philadelphia, where Clark got his start with “American Bandstand” on local television, R&B songwriters and producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff paid tribute.
"As fellow Philadelphians, we have admired Dick Clark and the 'American Bandstand' brand for many years, as it promoted Philadelphia music around the nation," the professional collaborators said in a statement. "Dick Clark was one of our inspirations for creating the ‘Sound of Philadelphia’ music brand. More importantly, we thank him for being one of the pioneers in promoting the Philly dance and music scene for the nation and world to enjoy. We send our sincere and deepest condolences to Dick Clark's family.”
Another songwriter and music producer, Mike Curb, weighed in Wednesday. “I had the opportunity to work with Dick Clark for 50 years, beginning when I wrote the theme for 'American Bandstand.' He has clearly been the most important figure during my lifetime in the industry.”
John Oates of the pop duo Hall and Oates reminisced: “Dick Clark was so much more than the host of a teenage TV dance show. Dick's understated yet omnipresent personality created a new media format. With an understated on air presence, he made the kids and their music the stars of the show. His genius was in his ability to use the power of television to help define how American teenagers saw themselves. From its humble beginnings on a local Philadelphia television network, to its eventual national network syndication, Dick Clark's ‘American Bandstand’ spread the gospel of American pop music and teenage style that transcended the regional boundaries of our country and united a youth culture that eventually spread its message throughout the entire world. With his passing, Dick Clark deserves to take his place at the top in the pantheon of popular culture icons.”
Clark was inducted into the Cleveland-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer in 1993. “The way Dick Clark made it safe for rock ‘n’ roll, especially the way he brought it to teenagers and their parents through TV was crucial in spreading the word,” said Lauren Onkey, vice president of education and public programs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It’s also a great opportunity to remember how important dance is in the history of R&R. It’s ironic how we’ve lost Dick Clark and ['Soul Train' creator and host] Don Cornelius so close together. They were both up to something similar: They created a space for bands and their fans to shine, and you saw that interaction.”
Mark Shapiro, chief executive of Dick Clark Productions, said in a statement: “Dick Clark was an American institution. He was able to replicate the magic he brought to ‘American Bandstand,’ not once but several times, through the Golden Globes, 'New Year's Rockin’ Eve' and thousands of hours of programming in almost every genre imaginable. He was the first of his kind -- a pioneer, entrepreneur and creative visionary who bridged and cultivated the music scene with traditional show business. Dick Clark entertained and touched the lives of several generations. He is truly irreplaceable and will be greatly missed by the employees of our company and millions of fans worldwide.”
-- Claire Noland
Photo: Dick Clark sits with the audience while introducing acts on "American Bandstand" in 1981. Credit: Los Angeles Times.