AN INDUSTRY LEGEND WHO, in one way or another, probably touched the lives of all reading these words, died on April 18, 2012. This is my Tribute to DICK CLARK (November 30, 1929-April 18, 2012).
THIS STORY BEGAN FOR ME IN THE SUMMER OF 1957:
A school pal of mine and myself had traveled from St. Louis to spend a few weeks in Monterey, Mexico visiting a former classmate of his. While we were there, I had my birthday, which was on August 13th, and celebrated in the spirit of the culture: they gave me a little party, had a pinata, etc. Very much fun indeed !
It was a great trip (remind me to tell you about the fact that we took a Greyhound Bus BOTH to & from Mexico !), and we arrived home on a Sunday Afternoon. I was going into my Junior year in High School, and there were plenty of tales to tell my classmates when the new semester started.
Having been a true hard-core music buff since my days in the cradle, upon my arrival at home a neighbor wanted to hear my "Mexican Adventure" Stories, and said I should come over and watch a brand new TV show that had started a week or so before my return.
It was on the ABC-TV Network, had begun on August 5th, and was called "AMERICAN BANDSTAND". It was hosted by a young guy named DICK CLARK.
WELL, WANTING TO BE in radio since I was about 8 years old, almost anything that coupled music & disk jockeys interested me. Especially, with the idea of it actually being on TV !
The St. Louis Disk Jockeys like Gil Newsome, Ed Bonner, Ed Wilson, Ray Manning, et al, had given me my early influences of what DJ's did. Later, Spider Burke, Dave Dixon, Amos Doston, George (Mr. G.) Logan, E. Rodney (The Mad Lad) Jones, and others had given me a taste of R&B on the local stations KXLW & KATZ.
But, my National R&R Roots up until that time, had come from ALAN FREED. To me hewas"Mr. Rock & Roll" ! He was SO great in his prime !! And his syndicated show (pre-recorded in those days) was on Saturday night sponsored locally by the Falstaff Brewery.
So, I was really interested to see what this "new guy", Dick Clark, was all about. And he didn't disappoint me. He was good, he was smooth, and, he got the job done perfectly.
But more than anything, Dick Clark taught me that one important word could help define your career: Multi-Dimensional.
DICK CLARK DID IT ALL ! Radio, TV, TV Shows, TV Game Shows, The American Music Awards, New Year's Rockin' Eve, Syndicated Radio Shows, Restaurants, Movies...as an entreprenuer he seemingly had no boundries.
On Thursday, November 4th, 1976, Dick Clark was in St. Louis. I was at KSLQ Radio and had begun syndication of my Morning Feature "The Breakfast Serial", and I met him at a location in the West Roads Shopping Center (now the Galleria). He was appearing there as part of a Nationwide Book Tour promoting his just-published autobiography "Rock, Roll & Remember", and personally signed a copy for me at that time.*
He was a true gentleman, interested in the fact that I was not only an Air Personality, but that I had a great love for the Golden Age of Radio and was preserving it with my show and bringing it to a new generation of listeners...plus, letting those that heard it "the first time" hear it again.
He complimented me on "breaking the barrier" by placing a Golden Age/Old Time Radio serialized-concept show on a "Top 40-Style" FM Radio station that was music-driven...and making it work. And, syndicating it to boot !
Dick Clark was always one of the major influences in my career. He, along with Alan Freed, Gary Owens, Casey Kasem, Jack Carney & Ron Lundy (WIL/St. Louis), and, my friend & mentor Don Pietromonaco (Johnny Rabbitt/KXOK-St. Louis) are those I learned from. I was shaped & molded by their professionalism, their talent, and their love of both music & their audience.
THANK YOU, DICK, for who you were, what you did, and, your words of kindness to me those many years ago. You are one of the reasons I've been doing this since 1967.
Jonnie King / St. Louis
*SPECIAL NOTE: YOU CAN READ MY Review of "Rock, Roll & Remember" in the Library Section by simply Clicking-On-This-Link.