Dick Clark, the music industry maverick, longtime TV host and powerhouse producer who changed the way we listened to pop music with American Bandstand, and whose trademark Rockin' Eve became a fixture of New Year's celebrations, died today at the age of 82, ABC News has learned.
Clark, who suffered a serious stroke in 2004 but returned to the airwaves, reportedly died from a heart attack.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1929, Richard Wagstaff Clark began his lifelong career in show business began before he was even out of high school. He started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station in upstate New York run by his father and uncle. It wasn't long before the teenager was on the air, filling in for the weatherman and the announcer.
Clark pursued his passion at Syracuse University, working as a disc jockey at the student-run radio station while studying for his degree in business. After graduating in 1951, Clark went back to his family's radio station, but within a year, a bigger city and bigger shows were calling.
Clark landed a gig as a DJ at WFIL in Philadelphia in 1952, spinning records for a show he called Dick Clark's Caravan of Music. There he broke into the big time, hosting Bandstand, an afternoon dance show for teenagers.
Within five years, the whole country was watching. ABC took the show national, and American Bandstand was born.
American Bandstand's formula was simple. Clean-cut boys and girls danced to the hottest hits and the newest singles. In between, Clark chatted with the teens, who helped "rate-a-record," turning songs into sensations. Everyone showed up on American Bandstand: from Elvis Presley to Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry to Chubby Checker.
A great icon of American TV has passed away but his legacy will always live on.When Dick Clark moved to Hollywood in 1963, American Bandstand moved with him.