Inner Michael » Losing Icons and Freedom Fighters

Losing Icons and Freedom Fighters

It was a daily ritual for many of us who would become flower children in the summer of love. Dick Clark made music legitimate for an entire generation and continued that tradition for decades. Parents found rock ‘n roll a threatening influence on their adolescents and Dick Clark diffused that threat for many teens whose only pastime interest was music and musicians. Music was a kind of salvation for most of the demographic: “youth.”

There was a kind of pseudo puritanical and ultra-conservative vibe to the fifties. Parents did not trust the music or musicians but saw it as corrupting their children. For teens, it was hard to breathe or survive in that restrictive vibe and they rebelled (enter “Rebel Without a Cause” James Dean” and Elvis “the pelvis” Presley.) “Rock ‘n Roll is (was) here to stay” and Dick Clark made it acceptable. He made it OK to dance. And he became known as “the oldest teenager in America.”

Dick Clark became a household word and parents began to accept their teenagers’ interest in music and dance; he is directly responsible for building a youth culture and giving it a voice where before, it was non-existent. He was a white non-threatening male with a huge smile and calm demeanor and he won over parents after winning the hearts of their children.

You may not have thought of Dick Clark as a freedom fighter, but he was exactly that. He didn’t march on Washington, make noise, protest or boycott anything, but shortly after he took over the helm at American Bandstand, he quietly integrated black America into Bandstand. He began by mixing African American dancers into the studio audience. Soon black performers began to show up beginning with Chubby Checker, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and of course, the new dynamic Motown darlings– the Jackson Five.

Clark was a prolific TV producer and TV show host and he brought in the New Year annually with “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and became the face of heralding a new year. The annual glittering ball drop became forever associated with America’s oldest teenager.

Dick Clark had a long and profound impact on American pop culture. He gave solace to a decade of teens who lived under the threat of nuclear war and immenent annihilation. He saved the sanity of a generation and gave them a healthy outlet for frustration and fear– dance and music.  He was a television giant whose quiet impact on the world of music and dance can only be underestimated. He is indeed irreplaceable. Like Michael Jackson, there will never be another. His passing is an occasion for sadness and he will be greatly missed.

A true icon and force for the twentieth century, Dick Clark made it OK for Michael Jackson to dance.







  1. Ankita said . . .

    I was away for two days (and didn’t use the internet) and as I logged in today I was greeted with this sad, sad news. Another of the greats has left this planet. For the past some weeks, in my prayers, I had been saying Dick Clark’s name while thanking God for the very few good people remaining in the media, and now this news is breaking my heart.

    I loved, respected and admired Dick Clark! To me, he was the best in the TV media biz and he was always so respectful of Michael, and he genuinely admired him and supported him through the hard times too! Rest in peace Mr.Clark; God bless you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the wonderful memories. You’ll be missed beyond words.

    Posted April 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  2. gertrude said . . .

    DC & MJ. 2 of the classiest acts we have or ever will see. The world’s oldest teenager was no doubt welcomed to the other realm by the warm embrace of a moonwalker. Until we meet again, Giants.

    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

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