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(I have just updated this with the word that Levon Helm has died. The original post said that he was gravely ill.)
By this point, how many millions of folks do you think have made a remark along the lines of, "Boy, up there in Rock 'n' Roll Heaven, they just got a heck of a host!'
Yes. Farewell, Dick Clark.
BTW, the Heaven Band just also got a multi-instrumentalist — Greg Ham of Men at Work — and Levon Helm, it has just been announced, has passed. (So much greatness in the man!)
Bless them all.
Having said that, I personally believe that anyone who trots out any derivation of the "he/she is singing her hits in Rock 'n' Roll Heaven," on the occasion of the death of a musician, should have their ears removed with pinking shears.
When a plumber passes away, do people gather and, smiling bravely through the tears, suggest, "Well, you know what? Heaven just got a tremendous toilet un-clogger!"
No. No, they don't.
(Like the plumber can't wait to get back to work in the Great Beyond!)
And even if being a rock star is theoretically a job the rocker probably enjoyed — whereas it's possible that plumbers might not look upon their profession with the same sense of fun — I just believe we should attempt to transcend cliché when discussing something as weighty as death and what folks might do afterwards.
Anyway, back to Dick Clark.
I appreciated his enthusiasm for music and artists, his quick adapatibility in featuring fresh acts and musical styles, and certainly his efforts to integrate music and studio audiences. But I honestly can't remember being turned on to even one artist by Dick Clark. That's certainly not his fault — but it's nonetheless true. Since word of his death came down, I've racked my brain, going back over decades' worth of musicians I've enjoyed or loved, and it just so happens I didn't learn about any of them from Dick Clark.
My friend Lon Burke, a few years older, hipped me to Hendrix and Cream and the Doors and Zappa before Clark could, and a guy named Chuck, who owned Hit Records in my south Dallas neighborhood, was far more on the ball and ahead of the curve than any disc jockey or tv personality from that era. He was a great source.
None of this means anything other than those are the reasons I don't have a big musical and emotional ties to DC and his American Bandstand. But I'm certainly aware that he enjoyed what he did and had massive influence.
Now, if we could just go back in time and change that one show — the one where he introduced Madonna to the world. Thanks a lot for that, Dick.
Otherwise, Rest in Peace!