Farewell, Dick Clark
Today the world mourns an incredible talent with the passing of Dick Clark at age 82. The seemingly ageless “America’s Oldest Teenager” brought joy to generations of music lovers and pioneered the entertainment industry while bridging the race, gender and age gaps throughout his decades-long career.
The Mount Vernon, New York, native began his illustrious career in 1945 in the mailroom of his uncle’s radio station, WRUN-AM that his father managed in Utica, NY. He soon received promotions to weather and news announcer.
Following graduation from Syracuse University where he majored in business, Clark worked in television at Utica’s WKTV and as a disc jockey at Syracuse’s WOLF radio station. In 1952 he moved to suburban Philadelphia, PA, near neighbor Ed McMahon, and accepted employment with WFIL radio and its eponymous sister television station. He occasionally hosted TV’s “Bob Horn’s Bandstand,” eventually becoming its primary host. In 1957 the ABC network picked up the show, renamed it “American Bandstand” with the newcomer as its host, and the rest is history.
Clark’s admirers have much to say regarding his recent passing.
Kevin Sorbo, who is a major rock music fan and guitarist and pianist in his own right, mourns the death of this great icon. He acknowledges that he grew up with “American Bandstand” and, like many “Children of the ‘70s,” won’t forget Clark’s incredible contributions to music, entertainment and pop culture that influenced his formative years. He extends his sincerest sympathies to Clark’s family and friends.
Jerry Gross, lead singer of Philadelphia “Bandstand” dance craze regulars The Dovells (“The Bristol Stomp,” “You Can’t Sit Down”), had the following to say about the passing of Dick Clark:
“Dick Clark was a legend who helped a lot of acts, including us, gain stardom and have many, many hit records. The entertainment world will sorely miss Dick Clark.”
In memory of Dick Clark, the Dovells are organizing a special tribute to him to be included in their 50th anniversary concert, scheduled for Saturday, April 21, at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
“The Dovells did many tours with Dick Clark in the ‘60s and in the ‘70s, including the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. We were one of his favorite acts. Dick always called us when he needed a high energy act. He called us the Bowery Boys.”
Here is their website: www.thedovells.com
Here’s a statement from songwriting/production team Gamble & Huff:
“As fellow Philadelphians, we have admired Dick Clark and the ‘American Bandstand’ brand for many years, as it promoted Philadelphia music around the nation,” said Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff in a joint statement. “Dick Clark was one of our inspirations for creating the ‘Sound of Philadelphia’ music brand. More importantly, we thank him for being one of the pioneers in promoting the Philly Dance and Music scene for the nation and world to enjoy. We send our sincere and deepest condolences to Dick Clark’s family.”
Please see their websites:
(Photo of Dick Clark AP Photo/ABC, Donna Svennevik. File; Photo middle left Frankie Moreno with Kevin Sorbo courtesy of Kevin Sorbo; Photos right The Dovells and bottom left Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff courtesy of Randex Communications)