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: