Dick Clark, who as host of "American Bandstand" helped propel rock 'n' roll to cultural supremacy in the 1950s and 1960s, died Wednesday, April 18 in Santa Monica, Calif.
Read a story about his death, here.
Tributes are popping up across the globe. Here in Hampton Roads it's not difficult to find someone who has a personal memory of the man with the bright smile and calm, respectful personality.
Here are a few remembrances with local ties.
Gary U.S. Bonds, who grew up in Norfolk and began his musical career there:
[As told to Mike Holtzclaw]
He took me along on several of his Caravan of Stars shows. The rest of them were all white acts. So I traveled with him through Mississippi and Alabama and all around the South. When they would check into a hotel, I would hang out on the bus with the bus driver. They would carry my bags in and get checked in, and then we would drive the bus around back and they would sneak me into the hotel. If I wanted something to eat, I would call Bobby Rydell or Fabian and say, ‘Hey, can you get me a sandwich?’ Sometimes Dick would come by and bring me something to eat and we would hang out in my room. We both like a little bottle of wine, so he would come by my room and we would sit there for hours eating, drinking our wine, and talking about music.
Music was the most important thing in his life. It really was. He loved it, and he knew everything about it. He know the ‘when, why and what-for’ about every group, every performer. He was a musical history book.
[His first meeting with Clark] More than anything else, he was responsible for my career. He agreed to put ‘New Orleans’ on American Bandstand, and that was when I really became Gary U.S. Bonds. You have to understand that when we started out down there in the tri-state area, we couldn’t get anyone to play ‘New Orleans’ on the radio. The only one who would play it was Jack Holmes on WRAP in Norfolk, Daddy Holmes. The record was going down. People listened to it and they said, ‘The sound is inferior,’ or ‘the sound is not good.’ But we drove up to Philadelphia and got a meeting with Dick Clark. We played him the record, and he said, ‘I love it!’ He put it on American Bandstand, and it took off.
Bruce Hornsby, Grammy winner and Williamsburg area resident:
My run in with Dick Clark was at Farm Aid 1990, Hoosier Dome, in Indianapolis. I was performing solo and Dick was the MC for the show ... I had no sound check and I was playing this crappy toy keyboard which I could not hear in my monitor, complete sonic nightmare ... Luckily for me, Dick gave me a lengthy intro ... He was a really nice guy, a totally kind, gracious man. I met him several times. [Hornsby never played "American Bandstand," though.] Back then, we never did Carson, either. We thought it all felt a little Vegas-y. In hindsight, that was a stupid, snobbish attitude ... Dick Clark was an admirable guy. He seemed like a good man in a bad business.
David Messick, Daily Press circulation director:
Back in the 1980s, Dick Clark was producing a series of Rock and Roll oldies packages that came to Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. He would appear and introduce the acts that had become famous, often as a direct result of “American Bandstand.” And what lineups! Bo Diddley, the Angels, Danny and the Juniors, Gary U. S. Bonds, Lou Christie and many others. I was fortunate enough to be backstage for many of these programs along with Daily Press’s entertainment guru of the time Henry Edgar.
Three things struck me.
First, Dick Clark lived up to his reputation as America’s Oldest Teenager. He looked and acted energetic and youthful even face to face, up close!
Second, his wife Kari was a true partner in the enterprise. Always beside Dick, hair pulled back in a pony tail. Often in satin jacket. Always ready to jump in and assist with whatever was needed to get the show moving. They were a team … in private and in business.
Finally, he was gracious and considerate of the talent that he was presenting. Reporters would push to interview Dick about his impressive career. Mr. Clark instead would move to the back corner of the room … politely insisting that interviewers speak with the talent for the weekend’s show. That was the best memory … the way he allowed the spotlight to shine again on the acts he presented.
From the Daily Press archive, May 22, 1983:
[Clark was in town as his "Good Ol' Rock 'n' Roll Show" featuring Bobby Lewis, Lou Christie, Joey Dee, the Marvelettes the Drifters, Bo Diddley, the Diamonds and the Shirelles were playing over two days at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. In advance he was interviewed by Daily Press reporter Henry Edgar]
Dick Clark: "From the time I was a toddler, I've always tried to do more than was humanly possible. It doesn't seem to bother me that the goals I set for myself are too high. I just keep chipping away at the pile. As I get older, I've found I can do five times more than I could 10 years ago. I guess it's like taking a little bit of arsenic every day, eventually your tolerance level goes up."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times