American music icon Dick Clark died this morning at age 82. Hard to imagine that, really. He’d been a part of the music scene since I first became aware there was a music scene. I watched him on “American Bandstand,” in black and white, when I was in junior high and high school. The show was quite a curiosity to me, a shy girl who didn’t date or go to parties or hang out with the in-crowd. I watched “American Bandstand” to see what the cool kids did when they got together. I watched to see what the kids in Philadelphia did (they were so much more progressive than kids in Oklahoma — and some of them were even black!). I watched to see how the popular kids danced — on the off chance that I might have to dance someday. (Thank goodness Clark and Chubby Checker taught me The Twist before I left for college.) And of course I watched because it was my only chance to see the artists I listened to on the radio every day (aside from “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Your Hit Parade,” of course).
“American Bandstand” was my MTV and Dick Clark was my VJ, twenty years before either was invented. In later years, Clark did other things, but I never cared for the New Year’s Eve broadcasts — his or any of the others; they were two-hour-old reruns by the time I saw them. Besides, my Dick Clark would always be that young guy in the black-and-white photo, the one who hosted Bandstand in the ’50s.