Dick Clark, the man who brought countless rock and pop bands into people's living rooms on "American Bandstand," died Wednesday of a massive heart attack at the age of 82 following a surgical procedure. He started the show in the mid 1950s in Philadelphia, then took it nationwide on ABC.
From Elvis Presley to Madonna, Chuck Berry to Talking Heads, all kinds of popular musical acts played on the "AB" stage, and in many cases the show gave them their first national exposure. Clark deserves a lot of credit for helping rock, pop, and soul gain legitimacy among the public. "American Bandstand" stayed on the air until 1989. Years before MTV or VH1, "AB" introduced us to many new acts and let us see the bands we had heard on the radio.
The death of Clark, who also hosted the annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and created the American Music Awards, is another sad moment in a one-year period that's seen the passing of the giant figures who brought popular music onto the young medium of television. Music producer and impresario Don Kirschner died in January of last year, and "Soul Train" creator and host Don Cornelius passed away on February 1st of this year.
(See reactions to the death of Dick Clark from celebrities ranging from to Smokey Robinson to Snoop Dogg here.)
Clark suffered a stroke in 2004, but returned to hosting "New Year's Rockin' Eve," though he had slurred speech and wasn't on the air during the show as much as before.
Rest in peace, Dick Clark. Thanks for making that little box in our living rooms rattle with the sounds of rock, pop, and soul for all those years.
P.S. And while we're remembering Dick Clark, let's keep in our thoughts the great Levon Helm of The Band, who recently announced that he's in his "last stages" of his battle with cancer. [Update, April 19th, 3 p.m.: Sad to hear that Levon Helm succumbed to cancer at around 1:30 this afternoon. He was 71 years old.]