A Legend Remembered
Those who knew the "American Bandstand" host and pop-culture arbiter who died April 18 recall his business acumen, kindness and a surprising complexity.
Record producer, music industry executive
"Dick Clark was a true pioneer who revolutionized the way we listened to and consumed music. Before American Idol, X Factor and The Voice, even before MTV, it was American Bandstand that brought the most popular music of the day straight to the nation's living rooms. Many artists made their debut on the Bandstand stage, and for generations, he steadfastly welcomed millions of fans to his celebrations of the best of contemporary music. For me, he ranks right up there with the giants of our business."
"I'll never forget what he taught me: 'Can you dance to it?' We will be mourning his passing."
"I never really saw Dick unhappy. He loved the business. He loved to get up in the morning, come up with an idea and run with it. He couldn't hold a tune or keep a beat but he loved music and talent. The impact he's had has been tremendous, but for me, the word that keeps coming up over and over again is 'gentleman.' In the middle of this crazy business that we're in, he treated everybody with respect."
Hall & Oates
"Dick was very friendly to people he liked. I guess I was one of them, because he always engaged me in conversation. When I first grew a beard, back in the late '80s, beards weren't so popular. He said, 'You look like a young Abe Lincoln' -- very uncle-like. Dick basically invented American teen culture. He also put Philly style and dance on the world stage!"
"It's a sad day for the music industry and the world. No one did more than Dick Clark to help promote the careers of recording artists over the past six decades. He was a legend, a true gentleman and, most importantly, a dear friend to me."
"Dick was a creative powerhouse. At the airport, instead of being picked up in a limousine, he had a van with an editing bay in the back, and he would edit shows on the way to his office. I'm 22 years sober and in a documentary called Paul Williams Still Alive, out in June. There's a devastating scene, me with a horrible case of the giggles, just fried on cocaine. Dick's being nice and laughing with me -- you can see I'm costing him money -- but he didn't say a word."
"Dick is my dearest friend in this business, a friendship that has endured since 1958. He was there for every crisis of my life, and there were many. Without Dick Clark, there would have been no career because I was ready to abandon it. On Jan. 1, 1958, I turned on American Bandstand just like millions of other teenagers in America. Bandstand became a way of life for us, and there wasn't a lonely teenager because of it. We were united, and it was one strong, common bond. It was always happier in the house when Bandstand was on. That night when I turned it on, I always say with the flick of a switch, I became a star. I remember hearing Dick Clark say, 'There's a new girl singer and she's headed straight for number one.' And I said, 'Good luck to whoever that is,' but then he played my song, 'Who's Sorry Now.' We thought the thing was dead because it had been out three months, but then he played it every day until it sold a million records."
"I was too young to dance on Bandstand, but my sister and I watched it and did our own dancing thing in front of the TV nearly every day! It was a dream come true for me when I was asked to be on it as a performer, singing my first hit song, 'This Will Be.' Dick produced my first TV special for NBC -- it was one of the best-looking shows of that genre when it came on. Everything was done so very well because Dick was meticulous and a creative powerhouse. Anything with his name on it had to be flawless! We became dear friends, and he was like a mentor to me. He was a classy guy!"
Paul Revere & the Raiders
"I owe all of it to Dick Clark. He played my very first record on American Bandstand, and from that moment on, it took off and became a Top 40 hit, in 1960 or '61. And then he had us on his TV show, Where the Action Is, five days a week in '65, '66, part of '67, so we did more than 500 television shows for him. We were starring in a lot of shows that he produced, and then Dick and I also owned an American Bandstand restaurant and nightclub in Reno. About six weeks ago, my wife and I spent the day with Dick and Kari at their place in Malibu and reminisced about the old days. Dick and I, we've just been connected at the hip for about 50 years. If I hadn't have known Dick Clark, I'd be milking cows in Idaho."
CEO, Mandalay Entertainment
"In the mid-2000s I bought out an interest in the Dick Clark Company. Dick was a remarkable fellow. As he recuperated from his stroke, he was adamant about presenting on the New Year's Eve show. Despite our misgivings, ultimately Allen Shapiro, the operating person, supported him. There was a sense of bravery, that Dick's presence had value and his persevering through difficulty was good for the brand."
Former talk show host
"Look at the way he advanced musically. I am sure you could have gone to Dick Clark on his deathbed and he would have told you the Billboard Top 40. Some guys try to command a room. Some guys get lost in it. Dick came gentle into the room. He was easy to take. The camera liked him, the microphone liked him. He knew something we both learned early on, that the only secret in the business is, there's no secret. Be yourself. Dick Clark was himself. The Dick Clark you saw, that was Dick Clark."
Former NBC president
"We'd say, 'We're past the time for Bloopers & Practical Jokes.' Dick would come in for a meet-ing and we'd end up not only saying, 'Yes, we need to continue,' but we would be, like, sharing. He was a remarkable salesman."