Dick Clark died yesterday and this is a passing all the music industry should sit up and take notice of. No matter what they say about Alan Freed and some of the other early pioneers of Rock music, Dick was the man that put it on the air and on the map.
I was watching Bandstand with the rest of America’s youth in the late fifties when we discovered this fresh-faced young man in suit and tie who seemed to know more about the music than anyone else in the country. He could make, break or destroy a record with the tilt of his head or a smile at just the right time. Artists flocked to the stage door to get on his show and lip-sync their latest release and record companies tied up his phone lines to get their roster represented on the all-important afternoon show. That weekday airing was then moved to Saturday afternoon and an icon was born.
We (the Statlers) first did a Dick Clark TV show about 1966. It was an afterschool show on ABC called “Where The Action Is.” It was taped in Riverside, California, just outside L.A., and featured whoever was a hot act at the time. (If you remember this show, you’re older than you want to admit.)
Then in the early to mid-70s, Dick invented the American Music Awards. He was trying desperately to get it off the ground that first and second year. He called us in Virginia and said he was producing this new awards show and asked us to come guest on it. We had scheduled a series of meetings with our lawyers and CPA during that time for some business we were involved in and told him thanks but no thanks at this time. Days later, he called back and said he really wanted us for the show and if we would bring our lawyers and CPA with us and do business on the plane going and coming, he would gladly pay all the fares for everyone. Again, we told him it just wouldn’t make sense at this time but that we would do it another year for him. A couple of days later he called and said, “Look guys, if you come, you’ll win.”
Dick was a lovable and determined guy. That’s why he was as successful as he was in everything he touched. To end that story, we didn’t go and we didn’t win.
But we did win three other years – ’79, ’80 and 81. And we finally worked it out to where we were able to be there and perform on the show in ’83. Dick was standing on the stage waiting for us when we arrived for rehearsals. His first words were, “Well, finally the Statler Brothers are here!”
He was one of the good guys and he’ll be missed by the music and TV industry.
You know what I remember most about that American Music Award TV performance in ’83? We sang “Child of the Fifties” and the opening lines to the song are:
I grew up a child of the fifties
Learned to dance to the beat of Rock n Roll
Television was my friend, “I Love Lucy”, “Rin-Tin-Tin”
Kissed my first girl when I was ten years old.
Rest well, Dick. You left a lot of nice memories for us all.
April 19, 2012