Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve may have been an innocuous end-of-year ritual but the show that made him famous, American Bandstand, remains an American treasure. With his death today at 82, there's no better time to remember the show's finer moments, which he hosted from 1952 to its final season in 1989.
Sticking it to the KKK Soul singer Sam Cooke's music was featured on American Bandstand on a number of occasions to the dismay of some viewers in the Jim Crow-era South. That prejudice was something Clark witnessed first-hand when he hosted a live show in Atlanta where Cooke appeared in what The New York Times calls "one of the first racially integrated rock concerts." "Cooke was the only Black performer on the concert bill and the National Guard had to be called in amid threats from the Ku Klux Klan," wrote the New Pittsburgh Courier. Here's a particularly soulful soulful rendition of "You Send Me" performed by Cooke on Bandstand.
Creedence Crushes It In 1969 Creedence Cleerwater Revival performed a rousing version of "Commotion" on Bandstand followed by an interview with Clark about their creative process.
Clark Does a Swedish Accent with ABBA It might be the most 70s-est thing ever. In his 1975 interview with ABBA, Clark does a mockingly cartoonish Swedish accent, lightly chides the state of cultural PCness in America and asks the band what they think about Krautrock. It's amusing to watch the band act like cultural ambassadors from Europe to the United States:
An insanely young and awkward Van Morrison goes on Bandstand. At 22-two-years-old, Van Morrison had a marvelously awkward conversation with Dick Clark in 1967. "Do you ever have any spare time to yourself?" Clark asks a visibly dazed Morrison. "Not much." "What do you do when you have a moment off, do you work?" "No, I kind of I just walk... in parts of cities and do reading and things like that."
Here he is performing "Brown-Eyed Girl" with a very appropriate level of crowd swaying:
Cheech and Chong swing by In 1973, the famous stoners appeared on the show's Rate-A-Record segment to mouth off and shtick things up with a disoriented Clark.
Madonna Twirls. In 1984, an awesomely-uninhibited Madonna appeared on Bandstand in a twirling gothic black ball of '80s bliss:
The Beastie Boys get ill with Bandstand They hadn't quite perfected their act and the sloppy, disjointed choreography shows. Lunging into the audience with a stripper on scene, the Beasties' rendition of "Fight for yYour Right" is must-view Bandstand: