I haven’t been a big fan of New Year’s Eve for quite some time now. With the cost of going out -- even on a regular date night -- going up, my wife and family and I had been staying home and ringing in the New Year on our own; that is, provided we were able to stay up that late.
A few years ago, one of my wife’s friends hosted a New Year’s Eve party at their home in north Jersey, but with the long drive home and the police out in droves to watch for drunken drivers that night, even that turned into a hassle for us.
This year we stayed home, but even that just wasn’t the same. This past New Year’s marked the first time that Dick Clark, America’s oldest teenager, wouldn’t be hosting the ultimate celebration on TV, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. With his death on April 18, 2012, the reins were officially turned over to Ryan Seacrest. Not that Seacrest and his co-hosts (Jennie McCarthy and Fergie) were bad, but there was just something about Dick Clark that made New Year’s Eve special.
For forty years, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve hosted by Dick Clark was a staple in our living rooms. The greatest musical talent ever was featured every year. I remember watching Billy Preston in 1970 when I was 11 years old performing his hit song “Outta Space”, one of the best musical performances I can remember from all the NYRE shows that I saw over the years.
But things started changing a few years ago. In December 2004, Clark suffered a major stroke and missed the 2005 edition of the show. There was talk throughout the industry back then that he would never return.
But there he was, just one year later, rocking the New Year in with all the rest of us. Although his speech was noticably slurred, it was still good to see him back and to know he’d continue on with the show. We all love a comeback, and this was indeed a comeback.
Unfortunately, the one thing that we can’t come back from is our own mortality. Luckily, over the last several years, Seacrest had ingratiated himself with Dick Clark Productions enough to carry on the show in case something happened to Clark, and he seemed a natural fit to co-host the show while Dick sat back and offered his own thoughts on the New Year throughout the broadcast.
But still, one can’t help but feel disappointed that Clark wasn’t there this year. He had come back after his stroke and appeared on the boradcast for seven years afterwards. It was almost as if we expected him back year after year after year. Dare we think that he could have gone on forever?
From Bandstand to Bloopers to New Year's Rockin' Eve, Dick Clark was one constant that was always there for me – throughout my entire life and a lot of other people's lives too, up until this point. May he ring in the New Year up in Heaven every year for all eternity. Until we meet again, Dick, stay cool.
[Special thanks to my friend Joe Valencia, who suggested the topic for this blog.]
(You can also follow Kevin Cieri's blog on his Facebook page, "Jersey Shore Retro" as well as on Twitter @jsretro).