The music man

Published 6:13 pm Thursday, April 19, 2012

How many musicians, recording artists and songwriters can trace their rise to fame and fortune to “American Bandstand” and Dick Clark? Thousands.

“American Bandstand” made Dick Clark a pop-culture icon. Dick Clark made performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, the Supremes and Run DMC music icons in their own right. The final act to appear on the show, which ended in October 1989, was the Cover Girls. Most performers on “American Bandstand” lip-synched their current hits or songs making their way onto or up the hit charts.

Millions of teenagers — and surely some adults — tuned in on Saturday mornings to hear hits and soon-to-be hits and watch the latest dance steps. Dick Clark exposed them to the latest offerings from established artists to performers just beginning their careers. And with Dick Clark providing them exposure and encouragement, some of those fledgling performers would be around for nearly as long as “American Bandstand,” which aired for 38 years.

No matter one’s opinion of pop music over the years, there is no doubt Dick Clark was a major influence on the music scene. Elvis Presley benefitted from Dick Clark’s music and business savvy. Dick Clark had a knack for identifying musical talent and picking hit records before they became hit records.

If the phrase “the day the music died” from Don McLean’s “American Pie” refers to the death of Buddy Holly on Feb. 3, 1959, and his contributions to music, what phrase will best describe Dick Clark’s contributions to music? There may not be words adequate enough to do justice to those contributions.

Thanks for the music and the memories, Dick Clark.