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R.I.P. William 'Bill' Herbert Kelder - Intellpuke

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2012-12-30
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2012-12-25
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2012-12-21
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2012-12-16
An Open Letter To United Health Care, Medcom, And The Medical Insurance Industry In General

2012-11-17
Whitehouse Petition To Remove "Under God" and "In God" From Currency And The Pledge.

2012-11-15
December 21, 2012

2012-11-11
If Hillary Clinton Ran For President, She Would Probably Be The Best-prepared Candidate In American History

2012-11-10
CIA Director David Petraeus Resigns After FBI Investigation Uncovers Affair With High-Profile Journalist

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2012-11-07
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2012-11-06
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2012-09-30
FIP In Hiatus

2012-09-18
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Iran Nuclear Chief Says IAEA Might Be Infiltrated By 'Terrorists And Saboteurs'

Romney Stands By Gaffe

2012-09-17
President Obama Says China Trade Practices Harm American Auto Parts Workers


Dick Clark: The Underground's Unlikely Champion
2012-04-20 02:32:31 (131 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke

It is easy to think of Dick Clark, who died on Wednesday, as a real square, standing dead center in the cultural median, slick and mainstream, ageless and rocking a perdurable deep Californian tan and a haircut that didn't change in the 33 years that American Bandstand, the music show he hosted, was on the air.

Looking at him now from the distance of 2012, he seems like a relic of another innocent time. Perhaps he was. He was prescient; understanding how impactful rock'n'roll was and would be, which artists would matter. Just as important was understanding how much music mattered to teenagers, how utterly connected and crucial it was. Of course he understood it – music mattered to him in the same way.

While we associate American Bandstand as the force that helped establish and eschew vintage acts such as Dion or Paul Anka – the Beibers and sub-Biebers of the early rock 'n roll era, perhaps – we forget the weirdos he gladly welcomed to his stage. In the above segment from 1966, Don van Vliet of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band is interviewed by phone as part of the show's regular Hot Line feature. A young woman with a massive beehive holds the phone and identifies herself, quietly, as "Cathy Fletcher, 17" and begins asking Van Vliet some standard issue questions, including "Why do you think your band is becoming so popular?", the Captain says something oblique about their sound and the camera cuts to a dance floor full of bright young things that come alive with the skuzzy chugging blues of Diddy Wah Diddy.

In the moment, surely, such a thing was positively normal – it was just another song with a fantastic stomping hook that you could shimmy to. But think again about teenage couples dancing to one of the outre progenitors of left-field pop – a moment of Clark's subversive tastes sneaking in. He knew America and its teen tastes were changing, evolving, heading towards something heavy and strange, and he did not shy away. He beckoned it even closer, he connected one of great weirdos of the American underground with "Cathy Fletcher, 17". You could cynically say Clark was just being savvy, but it was nothing short of an act of largesse.

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In 1980, Clark would invite Public Image Ltd. on to the show. John Lydon warned Clark he planned to do his worst, to which Clark offered: "Be my guest." The result is one of the show's most infamous performances. Lydon, insulted by the expectation that the band would lip-synch their way through Poptones, made it obvious in his performance that they were miming, plowing through the audience, "singing" into the air, the mic at his side, doing disjointed calisthenics. American kids viewing this likely anticipated some chart-topping disco thump. Instead it was a lacerating introduction to death disco. Even if he thought Lydon an "asshole" – that was the point, wasn't it? – he had them on, he aired the show, he understood enough to know this was, as he says in the band's introduction, "important".

Later punk performers such as X, who appeared on the show in 1981 and again in 1985 (Clark was a fan), would be perfectly gracious. Clark was a rock'n'roll institution, and inasmuch as punk was about spitting on such things, still X were American kids who grew up on TV – how could they not genuflect a little? X frontwoman Exene Cervenka tweeted her fond farewell to the TV host last night: "Dick Clark was good to X, good for music, no one like him any more. Not a corporate puppet. Thank you, Mr Clark." Hardly faint praise when the doyenne of American punk props your DIY ethos. Dick Clark – there's no one like him, any more.

Intellpuke: The author of this article, which was posted on the Guardian's online edition for Thursday, April 19, 2012, was not named; you can read it in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/apr/19/dick-clark-underground-champion


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