Television legend Dick Clark has died today at age 82. It is impossible to overstate the importance of Clark to the popular culture of the 20th century. His television dance show, American Bandstand, introduced rock 'n' roll music to millions of new people from all across the country.
I have always believed that popular culture - mainly music, but also television, movies, and sports - had more to do with social change and progress in this country than any set of laws. It was kids of the "rock 'n' roll generation," who came of age in the late 1950s and early 1960s, who embraced what was essentially black music at a time when whites and blacks rarely inter-mingled. It became increasingly more difficult to hate someone when you listen to the same music or like the same athletes. Racists and opponents of change always understood this, which is why they were so opposed to rock music in the first place.
But this is not a sociology lecture, this is a blog post about the death of Dick Clark. By the time I came on the scene in the 1970s, American Bandstand was already an institution. Every major artist from the 1950s to the 1980s performed on the show, and countless records became hits after the AB audience said they liked it.
Looking back, the show seems so old fashioned and almost quaint. But, it was actually quite cutting edge in its day. I'm glad that I was able to grow up in the AB era. So long, Dick.