The passing of Dick Clark this week has brought a flood of memories back to many baby boomers. He helped introduce hundreds of now famous entertainers and he helped define popular music for several decades. Like many growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s, "American Bandstand" was a staple of my television viewing.
I had to explain to Daniel who Dick Clark was. My son was too young to have seen him on "American Bandstand" or the bloopers show he did with Ed McMahon. He didn't understand the impact that Clark had on the American music industry. I told him that a lot of world-famous singing stars performed for the first time on Clark's show. Now we have YouTube and social media outlets that allow up and coming performers to showcase their talent. Back in the day, television and radio were the only options to get a new song or a new group exposure.
I remember seeing the Jackson 5 for the first time on "American Bandstand," and the Osmond Brothers and many of the other groups that shaped my musical tastes in the late 60s and early 70s.
One of my favorite albums when I was about 11 or 12 was a Dick Clark compilation record that featuring many early rock and roll hits. The 1970s brought a great revival of music from the 1950s. The TV shows "Happy Days" and "LaVerne and Shirley" may have been part for that. But that album had about 30 big hits by The Crew Cuts, Frankie Avalon, Elvis, Martha Reeves, Little Richard and many more. I can honestly say that I wore out the record on my turntable. Turntable - yet another term I had to explain to Daniel.
Even before that time, I had a portable record player that I took everywhere. My friends and I would have impromptu dance parties with the latest 45 rpm records we'd seen on "Bandstand." We would pool our allowances to buy a few records and then we'd bounce around like crazy. We also would rate the records like the TV dancers on "Bandstand" did.
"It has a good beat and you can dance to it, Dick. So I'll give it a 9."
Our favorites then were Elvis, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Rick Springfield, the Monkees, Donny Osmond and all of the other bubblegum pop singers of the day. Later on, as a teen, my tastes in music matured a little, but "American Bandstand" was still the place to go to see the latest bands and singers.
And of course, I spent many New Year's Eves with Dick Clark, watching him count down the seconds until the ball dropped in Times Square. It was difficult to watch him in recent years, after he had his stroke.
MTV and other music channels eventually became the place to go to find hot new bands and singers. Music videos brought a whole new dimension to the eager fans. And now, with YouTube and social media, Internet programs and other venues, the newest music greats are just a click away at any moment. But those of us who remember Dick Clark and "Bandstand," will cherish memories from our youth when the "Worlds Oldest Teenager" brought us the newest and greatest musical acts of the day.