Could it be true? Could the ever youthful, energetic and sanguine “World’s oldest teenager,” Dick Clark really be dead? No way! It wasn’t that I questioned the reliability of the person who told me or anything, but I immediately went online to check for myself, because I didn’t want to believe it! And there it was on my Yahoo homepage, Dick Clark Dead at 82.
Like “the shot heard round the world,” word of his death spread like wildfire. By days end on Wednesday, thanks to the extensive coverage on radio, television and the internet, everyone knew of his passing. For the next several days, thoughts, memories and condolences poured in from friends, celebrities, royalty and countless fans. An incredible tribute to the man who hosted the teen dance show ‘American Bandstand’ for 30 years and rang in the new year for nearly 40 years live from Time Square, on the national televised “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
Yeah, it’s hard to imagine ringing in a new year without Dick Clark traditional countdown. The only time he missed a show was in 2004 when he was recovering from a stroke. But he was back the following year, despite problems he was still having with his speech. What a guy! It was incredible! He was a real trooper and will be greatly missed. For 30 years he ended each and every American Bandstand broadcast by saying “For now, Dick Clark … so long,” then he made a salute gesture with his right hand. Well Dick now it’s our turn to salute you.
I was around ten years old the first time I remember seeing a very young looking Dick Clark hosting American Bandstand. We had just moved to our new home in Azusa, a move I was still getting over. We’d been living in Baldwin park where I attended St John the Baptist Catholic School. We were only a few weeks into the new school year when we moved and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I had a 5th grade crush on a cute little blonde named Donna, a carry over crush from the 4th grade. On the day before we moved my teacher decided to rearrange the classroom. Instead of rows she paired up students side by side. I had the good fortune of being paired with Donna! Well my good luck lasted for one afternoon, one incredible afternoon!
I walked home from school that day in seventh heaven! I took a lot of ribbing from a couple of my classmates who walked with us but I didn’t care. “Johnnie and Donna sitting in a tree” was fine by me! When I got home I learned that we were moving the following day so I wouldn’t be returning to St John’s and my Donna. I was devastated! Oh well, just another in a series of bitter childhood disappointments and my first broken heart. I got over it eventually. What that has to do with Dick Clark I have no idea! Just came to mind as I was writing, oh well, back to Bandstand!
After we moved and got settled into our new school I remember my sister and I would get home from school and do sit down and do our homework. My mom usually sat with us and helped us if needed. Everyday at 4pm my mom would settle in to watch American Bandstand. She loved the show! I truly believe Dick Clark and Bandstand made her feel young and alive! There was just something about him that energized her. She even knew all the regular dancers by name. Sometimes she would be on the phone with my older cousin Cynthia talking about the regular on the show, the dancers. They’d talk about who was dancing with whom, the girl’s hairdoos, clothing, etc. I only remember one name, Franny, they talked about her all the time! It was always Franny this and Franny that, yeah my mom was quite attached to that girl. I remember times that we were at my aunt’s house and my mom and Cynthia would be doing the Bandstand dances. Sometimes my cousin Charles came out and joined them. Charles and Cynthia (twins) used to be pretty good dancers. Yeah my mom had a lot of fun with them.
As I got older I used to watch Bandstand, but it pretty much depended on who the guest artist was going to be. I remember seeing The Animals, Chubby Checker, Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers, The Seeds, Question Mark & the Mysterians, Buffalo Springfield, Steppenwolf, The Monkees, Byrds, Temptations, Jefferson Airplane, Jackson 5 and so many more artist. Of course by the time I really started watching Dick had some competition from the likes of ‘Shindig’, ‘Hullabalo’, ‘9th Street West’, ‘The Lloyd Thaxton Show’ and ‘Groovy’ which was broadcast live from Santa Monica Beach. Yeah the 60’s was a boss time for teen oriented programming on afternoon TV. Wow I almost forgot the show that was created by Dick Clark as a spin off to Bandstand, ‘Where The Action Is’ remember that one? Paul Revere and the Raiders were like the house band for the show. Saw a lot of great artists on these programs, lot of great music.
But American Bandstand was the best and Dick Clark was king! The other shows ran only a few seasons while Bandstand was on for 30! If I was going to a school dance I always started watching way in advance and concentrated on the dancing to see if I could pick up a few moves which I usually did. Yeah those were some really great times and Dick Clark was at the center of it all. Thanks for everything Dick you will live on in the hearts and minds of baby boomers everywhere as well as everyone who came to know you as Mr. New Years! Thanks for all the years of memories and good times! So “For now Dick Clark… so Long…”