Dick Clark's Early Career:
Richard "Dick" Clark was born November 30, 1929 in Bronxville, New York. He began working at the radio station WRUN, owned by his uncle and managed by his father, in the 1940s and rose quickly to filling in for the weatherman and announcing station breaks. Before long he also began to work on television. In 1952 Dick Clark moved to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area and began working as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL. He also became a substitute host for the TV show Bob Horn's Bandstand. In 1956 Dick Clark became the primary host, and the ABC network picked the show up for national broadcast beginning in 1957.
American Bandstand debuted nationally on August 5, 1957. Dick Clark stated the premise of the show simply. He said, "I played records, the kids danced, and America watched." Until 1963 the show ran daily Monday through Friday. From that point through 1987 it aired every Saturday. American Bandstand introduced Americans to the newest trends in pop music sound, dance, and clothing trends. A wide range of pop musicians gave their first televised performances on the show. Dick Clark moved the show from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in 1964 in response to the advent of surf pop. American Bandstand came to an end in 1989.
American Music Awards:
In 1973 Dick Clark took on one of the biggest forces in music when he created the American Music Awards to compete with the Grammy Awards. The new awards show distinguished itself by polling music buyers to select the winners instead of the academy members that choose Grammy Award winners. Almost 40 years later the American Music Awards are recognized, along with the MTV Video Music Awards, as one of the top three music awards ceremonies in the US.
Game Show Host:
Dick Clark's televison legacy also includes lasting impact on the development of the TV game show. He became the host of The $10,000 Pyramid in 1973. Dick Clark hosted most of the incarnations of the game show through 1988. The names alternated based on the top prize, the largest being The $100,000 Pyramid. During his tenure the show won nine Emmy Awards for Best Game Show and Dick Clark himself won three Emmys for Best Game Show Host.
New Year's Rockin' Eve:
In 1972 Dick Clark produced and hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. The show quickly became a New Year's Eve tradition. The premise is simple being performances by top pop and rock musicians surrounding the countdown to the New Year in Times Square, New York City. Dick Clark hosted the event every year, except for a millenium special that interrupted it in 1999, until he suffered a stroke in 2004. Ryan Seacrest took over the primary hosting, but beginning in 2005 Dick Clark made an appearance every year. New Year's Rockin' Eve celebrated its 40th anniversary ringing in 2012.
Throughout his life Dick Clark remained devoted to the role of radio in popular music. He created and hosted a wide range of radio countdown shows to compete with Casey Kasem's American Top 40. His longest running radio show was a four hour oldies show titled Rock, Roll & Remember.
Dick Clark's Death and Legacy:
Dick Clark died April 18, 2012 from a heart attack at the age of 82. He leaves behind a legacy in which it is hard to imagine the current state of popular music without his impact. The current success of pop music related TV shows like American Idol, X Factor, and The Voice seem impossible without the pioneering spirit of Dick Clark. He also can be given credit for helping pop music become a truly national art form with music, dance, and clothing styles shared coast to coast by TV audiences tuning into American Bandstand.