Dick Clark's American Bandstand was my gateway drug. Watching the smooth-looking, smooth-walking and, most of all, smooth-talking host of the non-stop dance party gave an immigrant kid like myself entree into the heart of American culture in the name of rock 'n' roll. And that's been with me ever since. "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it," was the oft-heard phrase uttered by the cute Philly kids on American Bandstand who rated records by the only standards that mattered. Years later, Clark became iconic as the host of the annual Times Square New Year's Eve broadcast on ABC. After suffering a stroke in 2004, he continued to appear every year on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, setting an example for others despite slurring his words, his dulcet announcer's voice gone forever.
New Year's Eve will never be the same.
Above: Clark as the host of American Bandstand. Below: Clark in the mid-1970s, during one of one of his many "New Years' Rockin' Eves" broadcasts. Photos via Time.com