There’s a notion going round that Dick Clark was the one who put Elvis Presley on national television, a notion that seems to have solidified into fact since Clark died. But I think American Bandstand was a local Philly show until later in the 50′s, by which time Elvis had been all over national TV many times, not to mention made a movie or two. Rock’n’roll was on TV a lot then because it sold. Dick Clark was just one of many hustling to get Elvis on their local airwaves, long after he’d already been seen coast or coast on other shows. But I think Dick Clark was the first national show that had rock’n’roll in a Saturday morning time slot, right after the cartoons. That was new. He was certainly the one who helped make rock’n’roll safe for nice white teenagers. He suburbanized it. What had been all Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry became Pat Boone, Paul Anka, Fabian and Frankie and Annette. I always thought Dick Clark was one of those guys who cashed in on rock’n’roll by destroying it. No more crazy black R&B, no more manic redneck rockabilly. Rock’n’roll took years to recover. Thank god some English kids discovered Chess Records and took rock’n’roll back again.
Rock’n’roll has always been a war between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Alan Freed was in league with the Devil. Dick Clark now sings with the angels. Me, I’ll take the evil every time.