EXCLUSIVE: Dick Clark ‘Lost’ Interview – Part 1

Editor’s Note: The following, never-before-published interview was conducted via telephone on Dec. 23, 1993 by the late Jim Mitteager (Part 2 here). The tape, part of a much larger collection bequeathed to Hollywood private eye Paul Barresi, was only recently discovered and graciously provided to FishbowlLA. Our thanks to Barresi for allowing us to share this great bit of nostalgia with our readers, on the anniversary of Clark’s April 18, 2012 death.

Mitteager: Hello, Mr. Clark?

Clark: Yes, who am I speaking to?

Mitteager: Ahhh, Jim Mitteager.

Clark: All right, Jim. My name is Dick. Carry on from there.

Mitteager: Great, well I just got to say, it’s an honor to talk to you…

Clark: Are you from Philadelphia?

Mitteager: No, I’m from New York. In fact…

Clark: Now, wait a minute, where did you pick up that accent?

Mitteager: Ahhh, all over the country… Traveling and what not.

Clark: Well, you really sound like you’re Pennsylvanian.

Mitteager: Well, we have something in common. You lived in Utica for a while.

Clark: [Laughing] Oh yes, yes.

Mitteager: I moved to Cooperstown not too long ago and Utica is very close. And you’ve been inducted into a comparable Hall of Fame.

Clark: Yeah, I think so.

Mitteager: I really appreciate the interview two days before Christmas. Did you ever suspect at the beginning of American Bandstand that rock and roll would become so mainstream? What I mean is, as a parent now and someone who grew up with rock and roll, I share the music with my kids. And when I was a kid, watching Bandstand, nobody shared it with their parents.

Clark: Well, you remember, it was a rebellious period of time when kids found something that was theirs and older people said, “Good God, what is it that you’re doing?” It’s sort of gone on like that for years and years. I don’t think predicting that rock and roll would last forever was any big deal because it embraced so many different kinds of music. It’s a misnomer to call all the stuff that’s out there these days rock and roll because it really is every conceivable kind of music there is. The public has gotten so finicky and its tastes so divided, it’s going to last forever.

Mitteager: It sure is. Did your parents like rock and roll?

Clark: Oh, they were too old to worry about it.

Mitteager: Who has won the most American Music Awards to date?

Clark: Well, we just did a 20-year anniversary and we talked about Kenny Rogers winning the most. It’s got to be him without a doubt.

Mitteager: Did he ever appear on Bandstand?

Clark: Oh, yes… When he was with The First Edition and when he was Kenneth Rogers as a teenager.

Mitteager: So you were instrumental in the early part of his career?

Clark: Yeah. The only thing about it is we don’t have any film or tape on him when he was Kenneth Rogers as a teenager. But The First Edition stuff…

Mitteager: Was he on your show as Kenneth Rogers?

Clark: Oh yeah.

Mitteager: Oh, wow.

Clark: What I loved about him is he was always one of the great talkers. As a performer, a lot of the musicians were not necessarily great conversationalists. With Kenny, you could ask him any questions. He was easy to talk too. So you enjoyed having him on shows. And years later he turned out to be a great actor.

Mitteager: What common denominators do you see that set some of the [American Music Award] winners apart from so many other singers and singing groups? Is it work ethic? Is it background?