Dick Clark (1929-2012): "I don't make culture, I sell it."

Clark3If you're reading this on a Saturday, and you're roughly the same age as me (over 40, fearing 50) you may have fond memories of those 1970s pajama-and-pancake mornings of cartoons, Soul Train, and, in the early afternoon, Dick Clark's American Bandstand.

Clark, who died last week at the age of 82, had been called "America's oldest teenager." In his book American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire, John A. Jackson describes Clark's humble beginnings and how the mild-mannered radio DJ from Philadelphia became an unlikely champion for rock music and teen dance crazes, legitimizing "what was then viewed by most adults as vulgar, low-class music."

"It was very simple," Clark once said. "We played a record, and the kids danced."

Long before becoming the patron saint of New Year's Eve, Clark was the nation's mainstream musical tastemaker. As Jackson writes: "Given today’s multicultural, one hundred-plus TV channel culture it is almost impossible to appreciate the impact American Bandstand had on popular music, the business of music, and on American society itself." (Download an excerpt from American Bandstand below.)

Check out some classic footage in this report by ABC News:

>Read an exerpt (or download a PDF) from American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire

>See photos at Oxford University Press blog and at ABC News

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