Richard Wagstaff “Dick Clark”

By Gary:

It was 60 years ago August 5, 1957 that American Bandstand went National.

I will honestly miss this man.  It seemed as if he was there through my teenage years and really understood what we all needed and wanted.

Richard Wagstaff “Dick” Clark

(November 30,1929 – April 18 2012)


This is a part of the Blog that is necessary, but difficult for me at times.  On February 3, 1959, the day the music died, we lost Buddy, Ritchie, J.P. Richardson, but on April 18, 2012 we lost a man that I grew up with. 

Everyday after classes in High School, I would get home to watch “American Bandstand”.  I got to hear all of the new songs. I learned to dance (and became quite good).  This was all organized and operated by a man who looked like he could be your accountant. 

This man new more about music and the music business than anyone I knew.  He played music by local talent, Black Artist’s and his “kid’s” taught me how to dance. 

There were dancers like Bob & Justine, but my absolute favourite was Pat Molitteri who unfortunately died very young, early seventies of a heart attack, the same thing that took “American Bandstand’s” leader and mentor, Richard Wagstaff “Dick” Clark.

Pat Molitteri

Dick Clark with Bobby Rydell

For Now So Long Dick

There are literally thousands of tribute’s to Dick on the Internet, so I do not wish to be redundant, but I will tell  you what he and American Bandstand meant to me, Gary Copeland. 

My very first steady girl friend, Judy Muir, and I would go home after high school classes, watch American Bandstand, learn all of the new steps and dances and practice. 

We had a dance every Saturday Night and we wanted to be the best.  I did not know much about Dick, the Game Show host or the Business Tycoon who created so many shows and movies; all I knew was in the 50’s Dick Clark was the King of Daytime Television for us and American Bandstand (with it’s old Les Elgart theme music) ruled and we loved it.

Clark always seemed to be part of who we were as teenagers and he really understood the music that we wanted and needed.  I have read his books and read his quotes; not only did he build and empire but he, I believe, knew and understood more about the music business than anyone else at the time.

One quote I always remember, and I probably do not have it word for word, but it went like this

“In the early days, the music business was all about the music, today the music business is all about the business”

and I believe he is correct.

Even at 72 I will miss who he was and what he gave me in my insignificant life.  He was the biggest champion of the music I loved – “Rock and Roll”.

I have had a career that has made me business savvy and tough, but today, I had a lump in my throat when I heard the news, “The Generation that I loved” is disappearing and one of my hero’s is gone.

This picture was taken by me (Gary) 52 years ago in 1960.  It was the Dick Clark Cavalcade of Stars in Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto.  I know that it is not a great picutre, but it was taken with an old Kodak “Brownie” Camera.
Here is the Dick Clark I remember.  On July 9, 1956, Bob Horn was fired from WFIL in Philadelphia because of a drunk driving charge.  Bob was the host of “Bandstand”, the producer Tony Mammrella, took over briefly until a replacement was found… “Dick Clark”. 

In the late Spring of 1957, ABC was looking for a fill in show for their 3:30 pm slot, Clark decided to pitch Bandstand and on August 5, 1957 American Bandstand was broadcast nationally.  In Toronto we watched on WKBW in Buffalo and the rest is history.

I have searched you tube and have found some American Bandstand Video’s from the Fifties that I hope bring back fond memories of American Bandstand, The Saturday Night Dick Clark Show and of Dick himself and the Artist’s he presented.


American Bandstand 1960 / Bill Haley & the Comets /

There were so many musician’s that he helped and who he knew personally that, with a single phone call, he could put together some of the most amazing “Rock and Roll Bands”.  I do not believe that anyone else in the industry could have accomplished this.  Here are a couple of examples: 


The Great Bobby Darin (I remember this show) Splish Splash /
Jerry Lee Lewis 1958 on the Saturday Night Dick Clark show live /


Great Balls of Fire /
The great Bandstand Dancer’s / Walkin’ with Mr. Lee / Lee Allen /
1957 / Gene Vincent / Dance to the Bop /
1957 / The Stroll / The Diamonds /
1958 / Danny & the Juniors / Rock and Roll is here to stay / Beechnut Show /
1958 / Spotlight Dance /
1958 / Eddie Cochran / Somethin’ Else /
1958 / Dion and the Belmonts / I wonder Why /
1958 / The Diamonds / Little Darlin’ /
1959 / Jackie Wilson / That’s Why /
1959 / Jan and Dean / Baby Talk /
For now, So Long Dick.

9 responses to “Richard Wagstaff “Dick Clark”

  1. Many thanks for this and all the other stuff you have posted over the years.

  2. Wow! What great clips. Had never seen several of them. Especially enjoyed Jan & Dean. Thanks for this and so many other great posts.

  3. Great tribute. Today is an exciting Anniversary for American Bandstand fans.

    I would like to share that four years ago, I wondered whatever became of the Bandstand Regulars. I found Arlene Sullivan who agreed to co-author a
    photo-filled coffee-table book, Bandstand Diaries. We have some great pictures from way back when, if you would like to to share with your followers.

  4. A well deserved kudo for Dick Clark and American Bandstand. I did not watch it , too squeaky clean and tame for my liking !


    Forget Alan Freed, Murray the K, Dick Clark new everything about music, he also had dealing with record well-known Philadelphia Record labels.
    My career as a Pittsburgh Disc Jockey and also promoting the Music I played at the dance and seeing the people respond to certain song would send Records to Dick for his Rate The RECORD and he would sometime s use it on his show. “DO The ROBOT” was a big hit for me.
    Gary; As bob Hope would say “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES”.
    My favorite RADIO Dick jockey and he is still alive every Sunday Night his show is on Arizona MEGA 103.5 his name is ART LaBOE he own OLDIES BUT GOODIES.

    Hope you are having a great SUMMER.

    HUGH “BABE” O’Donnell

  6. Thanks for this memory. Could not wait to get home after school to watch the show.

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