People & Places
A Brief History
Dick Clark was born on November 30, 1929, in Mount Vernon, New York. By the time he was 17 years old, he was already getting his feet wet doing news, weather and station breaks for WRUN, a radio station in Utica, NY. In 1952, while working for WFIL radio and TV in Philadelphia, Bob Horn, host of an afternoon dance show, “American Bandstand,” was arrested for driving under the influence. In his place stepped a young, 27 year old Dick Clark, and the rest is history.
American Bandstand became synonymous with youth and music. Clark had an uncanny ability to pick talent and knew a hit record when he heard it. His influence on the music business at that time was enormous. New singers and groups were “discovered” on “Bandstand.” One appearance on his show could mean a chance for a new act to be heard and a career to be born. Clark garnered huge loyalty from talent that was discovered on his show, and many acts appeared multiple times to promote their songs and support “American Bandstand.”
I first met Dick Clark as an artist, when I performed on American Bandstand as Johnny Madara. I sang my hit, “Be My Girl.” I continued my professional relationship with Dick, appearing on American Bandstand and Where The Action Is a total of 14 times, as Johnny Madara, and later with Dave White and Ray Gilmore as The Spokesmen.
Dick’s influence on my career was enormous. In 1957, Dave White and I wrote a song called “Do The Bop.” Dick suggested that we change the lyrics and do a song about the record hops, which were becoming huge with the teenagers. Thankfully, we followed his advice. “At The Hop” became a huge hit and remains today one of the most recognized songs in the history of the music business.
From the time I met Dick Clark, he was always kind, supportive and generous. My feelings for him and my love for him
go beyond anything I can say. He was probably the most influential person in my career, and I am honored to have
called him my friend.
What Happened Next?
Following American Bandstand, Dick Clark went on to executive produce “The American Music Awards,” “The
Academy of Country Music Awards,” “The Soap Opera Awards,” “The Daytime Emmy Awards,” “The Golden Globe Awards” and “The 48th Annual Emmy Awards.” Through his production company, he also produced numerous TV
shows, including “The Birth of the Beatles,” and “Elvis," and the highly successful TV series, “American Dreams.” His company produced and Dick Clark hosted "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" show every New Year,' Eve, starting in 1972 until 2005, when he had a stroke and ceded the majority of hosting duties to Ryan Seacrest. He co-produced with Johnny Carson’s company in the 80s, “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” as well as “Live! Dick Clark Presents.” He
also hosted the hugely successful game show, “The $10,000 Pyramid” which later became “The $20,000, $25,000, and $100,000 Pyramid.” Clark wrote several books and ventured into the video and CD market with “Dick Clark’s Best of Bandstand” and “Dick Clark’s All-Time Hits.”
Dick Clark remains an icon in the entertainment industry. There has been no one before and no once since who has
had the single most influence on setting the trends in music and defining that music for millions of teenagers throughout the world. Dick Clark will forever be remembered as “the world’s oldest teenager,” with his ability to tap into his own youthful energy, while he continued to bring to audiences, young and old, his own special brand of entertainment. Dick Clark passed away on April 18, 2012. He was 82 years old.