Thursday, April 19, 2012

RIP Dick Clark

A familiar face and voice from the golden era, a great popularizer of rock’n’roll, ‘The World’s Oldest Teenager’ for whom (thanks to being rich enough for plastic surgery?) time really did seem to stand still, somewhere in the ’70s (so I sort of associate him with modern cheese), until that stroke about 10 years ago finally slowed him down. It was clear from his New Year’s cameos he was no longer well.

It all started at 46th & Market here, but not by him: ‘Bandstand’ on WFIL, which Philly kids would ride the subway, El or bus to and dance for TV until Clark moved the show to LA in ’64. You can’t miss it from Market Street or the El: still has a big broadcasting dish:

By the way there were no live performances on the show: everybody mimed their records.

Wasn’t Jerry ‘the Geator’ Blavat’s show a rival?

The talking heads have been saying Ryan Seacrest has Clark’s mantle. I don’t follow ‘Idol’ and have a problem with the funny auditions being unfair, if they still do that (being set up for very public ridicule: after one or two pre-broadcast auditions wrongly telling you you’re good enough, being ripped apart by the judges at the televised one*), but I like the different concept and wonder why they didn’t come up with it sooner: a game show where in theory anybody can become a star, seriously. (‘America’s Got Talent’ is a nicer ‘Gong Show’.) Real stage performances, some very good. Different from the music biz ‘Bandstand’ was part of in the golden era but by how much? Not very much from manufacturing stars like one of our local boys, Fabian (I’ve seen him: good-looking but can’t sing).

In my range of pop-music listening (mostly 1930s-1960s, the swinging smoothness between cornball and the world going to hell) my musical sweet spot is about where the big bands segue through r&b into early rock (there were direct connections: a Benny Goodman sideman was in Bill Haley’s Comets; Elvis first appeared on TV on the Dorsey brothers’ show). I like the original big-band ‘Bandstand’ (the name’s part of that continuity) theme:

By the way Donna and I are looking forward to seeing Jay & the Americans and the Dovells (we saw them once before) this weekend.

*If it’s fair, a cold audition, Simon Cowell-style honesty’s right.

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