America’s Oldest Teenager, Dick Clark, passed this morning due to a heart attack. The 82-year-old pioneer changed the way the nation listened to music with “American Bandstand.” Acts like Chuck Berry, Michael Jackson, Prince and Sam Cooke performed on the ABC show.
Dick played the original R&B recordings of Black artists, instead of featuring cover versions by White performers. When African-American performers were introduced among the White teenage dancers, it integrated national television at a time when that was taboo.
Dick created the series, “Soul Unlimited” in 1973, which resembled the likes of “Soul Train,” creating a feud between the creator and host Don Cornelius. Despite differences, the two would later collaborate and work together to co-produce African-American specials for ABC.
“Almost all of what I learned about mounting and hosting a dance show I learned from Dick Clark,” Don told Advertising Age.
Dick would move on to produce and host various programs and game shows, including the New Year’s Eve countdown from Times Square.
That wasn’t his only TV success. Dick’s name is behind, “The $25,000 Pyramid,” “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” and the American Music Awards.
“There’s hardly any segment of the population that doesn’t see what I do,” he said during a 1985 interview with The Associated Press. “It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, ‘I love your show,’ and I have no idea which one they’re talking about.”
His annual show, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” incorporated musical acts into New Years. The tradition stopped temporarily in 2004 when he suffered from a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. The next year, Dick was back in action, but his speech was still impaired. He told the audience, “I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It’s been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I’m getting there.”
Spokesman Paul Shefrin said that he died Wednesday morning at St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica, where he had gone the day before for an outpatient procedure.
Celebrities paid tribute to Dick Clark by expressing their grief on Twitter.
“Dick Clark was eternally young. No matter what culturally phenomenon was happening, he always embraced it. RIP,” tweeted Russell Simmons. In addition, Quest Love tweeted, “Dick Clark. A great Philadelphian. Thank You Very Much!”
Check out how more entertainers responded below.
Watch Dick interview the Jackson 5 on "American Bandstand" below.