The annals of music history in the 1950s and ’60s are littered with tales of legends.
Elvis. The Beatles. The Beach Boys.
I think one man was as important, culturally, as all of them.
Dick Clark didn’t invent rock and roll music, and he didn’t invent dancing, and he didn’t invent teenagers having a good time.
But he sure as hell put them all together and started a phenomenon. Through the 1950s and 60s, then well into the 70s and 80s, Dick Clark and “American Bandstand” were permanently ensconced in American pop culture.
I grew up hearing stories from my grandparents about how my mom and Aunt would come home from school every day, throw their books down, and boogie in front of the TV to whatever music “Bandstand” was playing that day.
The show changed American culture, exposing millions to music they’d never heard before. He also put African-Americans and whites on TV together at a time when that just wasn’t done.
And Clark, who sadly died of a heart attack Wednesday at 82, was at the center of it all.
The man never seemed to age, seemed to appeal to every demographic, and was a bonafide star-maker. He was a terrific TV show host as well (“25,000 Pyramid” is my favorite game show ever), and New Year’s Eve was a showcase for him for so many years. It wasn’t midnight without him.
Clark lived a tremendous life, filled with a little scandal (he was touched by the payola scandal of the late 1950s) and even after his stroke robbed him of speech a few years back, he still came out on New Year’s Eve.
We needed to see him, and he clearly loved the audience. His passing is a tremendous loss to the world.
But man, what a life he lived.
**The other sad news Wednesday was a little more predictable, unfortunately. One of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, the legendary Pat Summitt of Tennessee, officially stepped down as head coach Wednesday. Summitt has been suffering from early-onset dementia for the past year, but still coached the Volunteer team this past season, leading them to the Elite 8.
But now, she is stepping down, and her longtime assistant, Holly Barlick, is taking over.
It’s truly the end of an era. Summitt was a pioneer in women’s basketball, and a brilliant coach who motivated her players (through fear and other means) and helped so many women reach their potential.
Christine Brennan, the fine USA Today sportswriter, has penned a great tribute to Summitt. Check it out here.
**Finally, while I wonder how my Rangers let another game slip away against Ottawa last night (the series is tied 2-2 and I’m officially worried), and laugh at the Penguins’ 10-3 win over the Flyers (apparently Ben Roethlisberger threw a late touchdown in that one; seriously, TEN goals, Philly lets up?), I was amused by this play that happened in the NBA the other night.
Delonte West gave opposing player Gordon Hayward (he was the dude from Butler who just missed beating Duke with a half-court shot in the national title game in 2010) a Wet Willy. That’s right, West licked his finger and put it in Hayward’s ear during a stoppage of play.
Seriously dude, a wet willy? What was the next idea, to give him a wedgie, followed by a purple nurple (those really hurt, you know).
This just cracks me up every time I watch it.