Dick Clark helped pave way to mainstream for many black artists
The Kansas City Star
Dick Clark, an American pop icon, did a lot to elevate black performing artists into the mainstream.
Clark died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 82. Baby boomers know him from his days as host of “American Bandstand.”
Before he took over in the mid-1950s, the music industry just — like the rest of America — was highly segregated. There was strong opposition to black music being played on white radio stations because it would negatively influence impressionable white teens.
Through Clark “American Bandstand” helped serve as a bridge, popularizing the music of such black artists as Chuck Berry, the Miracles, Ike and Tina Turner, Prince, the Four Tops and Stevie Wonder. That gave black people nationwide a reason to call friends and relatives and encourage them to turn on the TV and watch black artists perform. Seeing black people on TV then was very rare.
“Soul Train,” which began broadcasting nationally in 1971 with host Con Cornelius, did a lot more to elevate the careers of black performing artists.
Rock ‘n’ roll took off and became inclusive largely because of Clark’s and Cornelius’ efforts. It is sad that Clark and Cornelius, 75, both died this year.