I'll probably remember Dick Clark more as the New Year's Eve guy than anything else. I do remember watching American Bandstand as a kid, but I can't honestly say that it was all that influential in shaping my musical tastes. I'm a child of the MTV generation. Music videos had a much greater impact on me. That and Casey Kasem's "American Top 40."
I certainly recall seeing Clark every New Year's Eve on TV. It was part of the fun of getting to stay up late on such a night as a kid - imagining myself in Times Square with half of New York, yelling and screaming. I should say, though, that the appeal quickly vanished after I actually did spend one New Year's in Times Square with a friend. We didn't get closer than 50th Street, it was cold as hell, and standing around for hours, unable to move, much less see anything, was not as cool as it looked like on TV; in fact, it actually sucked!
And then there was also Pyramid, a fun little game show, as well as TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes. I think I watched that more for Clark and Ed McMahon than anything else. Those two always seemed part of my television viewing experience while growing up. They were just there, in one way or another... and they were likable, so why wouldn't I watch this silly little show?
I spent a New Year's with John and Sue not too long ago, and we were making fun of Clark, still hosting New Year's Rockin' Eve post-stroke, and yeah, I guess I feel a little guilty about it now. Seeing him soldier on like that was awkward, no doubt, but foolishly heroic as well, I suppose. I mean, he had absolutely nothing left to prove, but there he was, still ringing in the new year like he had been doing for so long, like nothing changed and obviously he was unafraid of embarrassment..
Dick Clark was an American institution, an integral part of our pop culture for generations. I know I'll miss him.