Stevie Wonder: Dick Clark's Musical Legacy Bridged Color Gap

Dick Clark brought rock 'n' rollers of all colors into the nation's living rooms

By Kim Baldonado and Julie Brayton
|  Thursday, Apr 19, 2012  |  Updated 11:17 AM CDT
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In a statement, Stevie Wonder says Dick Clark gave

Kim Baldonado, Sean Browning

In a statement, Stevie Wonder says Dick Clark gave "musical life to black artists that may not have had a chance." Flowers graced Clark's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Wednesday after he died from a heart attack at age 82. NBC4's Kim Baldonado reports from Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on April 18, 2012.

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"America's Oldest Teenager" Dies at Age 82

Few entertainment figures can boast the legacy left by Dick Clark. From radio to television to music, the man known as "America’s oldest teenager" changed the face of just about everything he touched. Clark died Wednesday, April 18, after suffering a heart attack at age 82. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m.
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Dick Clark's iconic "American Bandstand" not only introduced teenagers to new dance moves, it introduced new artists, including black musicians.

"Dick Clark bridged a color gap at a time when there should not have been one, giving musical life to black artists that may not have had a chance. He gave music freedom - equal opportunity," Stevie Wonder said in a statement released Wednesday.

"He wore many hats and all of them incredibly well. His saying was its got a beat and you can dance to it. My words are he had a heart of gold, that's what I know and I'm stickin to it."

Click to see more celebrity tributes for Clark, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 82.

Flowers graced Clark's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he received in 1960. His career would span five more decades, including 30 years on American Bandstand.

"It was like an incredible fantasy land where we danced and we were happy, and Dick played the latest and hottest music," said Bunny Gibson, American Bandstand dancer.
Gibson danced on American Bandstand from 1959 until 1961, and said Clark was made to be on TV.

"He had the all-American great looks, a wonderful voice," Gibson said.

At the ASCAP awards in Hollywood Wednesday night, singers and songwriters remembered Clark's life.

"He made it full and he made it loving, and it remained spontaneous," said Carly Simon, singer and songwriter.

"He was an institution and everybody loved him," said singer and songwriter Peter Frampton, who appeared on American Bandstand in the early 80's.

And younger generations remember Clark as the man who rang in the New Year.

"I gotta say he'll be sorely missed," said Ne-Yo, singer and songwriter. "I can't imagine New Year's the same without him."

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