November 30 is Perpetual Youth Day

Today is Perpetual Youth Day, always celebrated on November 30th in honor of Dick Clark’s birthday. Although he’d been born in 1929, Clark appeared to age very little during the five decades of his career, earning him the nickname of “America’s oldest teenager.”

In 1957, Clark hosted a local Philadelphia television show called Bandstand, which he pitched to ABC as cheap, easy afternoon programming that would appeal to youth. The network, perennially in third place, was desperate to capture that demographic. On August 5, 1957, American Bandstand premiered to a national audience. It was an instant hit.perpetual youth day

Clark hosted the show for thirty years, giving many bands their first U.S. TV appearances. Among the diverse artists he introduced to American audiences were Aretha Franklin, Madonna, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina Turner, Neil Diamond, The Guess Who, Barry Manilow, Adam and the Ants, Kim Carnes, Blondie, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Grace Jones, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Prince.

The clean-cut, “square” host sometimes made music history. According to American Bandstand Timeline, on August 6, 1960:

When scheduled guest Hank Ballard and the Midnighters fail to show up to perform their hit R&B song “The Twist,” Clark convinces friend Chubby Checker to go into the studio quickly and cut a soundalike version in half an hour. Demonstrating the dance on TV, Chubby gets an instant #1 hit and sets off the nationwide “dance craze” that would last the better part of two years.

On January 6, 1979:

Dick Clark develops a series of moves for the audience to perform while the Village People’s new song is debuted on Bandstand. The group goes along with the idea, and the “YMCA” dance is born.

Not every appearance was destined to become a classic. All guests on American Bandstand were required to “mime” their songs. It was fairly obvious from the lack of wires and amplifiers onstage that bands were simply going through the motions.

In late 1967, Pink Floyd’s frontman Syd Barrett refused to lip-sync “Arnold Layne,” staring into the camera instead with a look that would later come to represent his descent into madness. The group canceled its first U.S. tour.

The Talking Heads debuted on American television on March 17, 1979, singing “Take Me to the River” and “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel.” Although they were reportedly unhappy about having to mime, American Bandstand was an opportunity too good to refuse.

First, Clark apologized for pronouncing Tina Weymouth’s name incorrectly, then launched into an interview of David Byrne, who looked embarrassed and gave monosyllabic replies. Clark then turned back to Tina and asked, “Is he always this enthusiastic?” She replied, “I guess he’s organically shy.” It didn’t get any better. One imagines everyone was praying for the next commercial break.

Public Image Ltd. appeared on the show on May 3, 1980. Here’s how lead singer John Lydon, formerly known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, described the experience in his autobiography, Anger is An Energy.

It all got off on the wrong foot when we arrived and they suddenly informed us that it would be a mimed thing. Our equipment hadn’t arrived in time, apparently, but we soon got even more upset when they said, ‘Oh no, you couldn’t play it live anyway, just mime to the record.’

They’d made up some edited versions of “Poptones” and “Careering,” and gave us a cassette to check it out beforehand. ‘Oh my God, they’ve cut it down to that? I don’t know where the vocals are going to drop. What are we supposed to do?’ None of us knew. Just thinking about trying to sing it like the record was…aarghh! You can fake it with an instrument but you can’t as the singer. ‘Okay, so you’ve cut out the point and purpose, it’s like removing the chorus from the National Anthem, just because it makes for an allotted time slot on a TV show. That’s arse-backways!’

Lydon solved the problem by barely making an effort to lip-sync the first song. He pushed people around in the audience, pulling some onto the stage as they squealed and clutched at him as if he were a rude, sullen Beatle.

Between songs, Clark attempted to be a good sport, inviting the rest of the audience onstage. On “Careering,” Lydon abandoned any pretense of miming the words and began wandering around the stage, giving his mic away and snorting nasal spray on-camera. Needless to say, the band was not invited back.

American Bandstand was not Dick Clark’s only claim to fame. In 1959, he hosted a forty-nine-day road show called Caravan of Stars that traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada and featured Bo Diddley, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Annette Funicello and Chuck Berry, backed by a seventeen-piece orchestra.

He hosted the Dick Clark Show (1958-60) and Where the Action Is (1965-67), produced and/or hosted TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes (on-and-off, in one form or other, from 1984-2012) and guest-starred on Perry Mason in 1966, Adam-12 in 1972, and appeared twice as himself in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1994, 1996) and once on Dharma & Greg (2002). He also owned several restaurant chains and had the dubious distinction of being questioned by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine about refusing to pay food workers a living wage.

perpetual youth day

He founded dick clark productions (dcp) in 1957, now the world’s largest owner and producer of events such as Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Miss America and weekly programs such as So You Think You Can Dance. dcp also owns a large archive spanning more than fifty-five years of award-winning shows, specials, performances and historical programs.

Dick Clark hosted New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from January 1, 1974, through January 1, 2004. Clark suffered a stroke on December 8, 2004, and Regis Philbin stepped in as guest host. Despite initial reports that the stroke had been minor, it resulted in dysarthria, a disorder which affects the muscles that help produce speech, making it very difficult to pronounce words. It doesn’t interfere with cognitive understanding of language but can lead to impairment of intelligibility and audibility of basic vocal communication.

The stroke also caused partial paralysis and Clark had to learn to walk and talk again. It was assumed his career as a broadcaster was over. But he was back to ring in 2006 with Ryan Seacrest, whom he’d chosen as his successor. Some found it uncomfortable and even depressing to watch Clark struggle to make himself understood.  Others, particularly those who’d had a stroke and spent hours every day fighting to regain speech and movement, cheered him on, hailing him as an inspiration.

perpetual youth day

Though his role had dwindled to figurehead status, Dick Clark never missed the rebranded Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest and helped the nation usher in 2012 before his death on April 18th of that year, caused by a massive heart attack during prostate surgery.

Perhaps Perpetual Youth Day is a misnomer given its dedication to a man who has shuffled off this mortal coil. But maybe it’s the perfect way to describe a person who introduced generations of kids to rock’n’roll while setting parents at ease. If a nice young(ish) man like Dick Clark thought it was okay to give airtime to Run DMC (Jam Master Jammin’), Prince (I Wanna Be Your Lover), Dokken (Just Got Lucky), Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit), The Doors (Light My Fire) and Psychedelic Furs (Heaven), then it had to be okay, right?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays


October 10 is Hug A Drummer Day

Hug A Drummer Day

Today is Hug a Drummer Day. Some in the U.S. call it National Hug a Drummer Day, but it’s been celebrated internationally for many years. Though it appears the music industry invented this holiday, that shouldn’t make us cynical. After all, behind every great group, quite literally, is a great drummer. Without a talented percussionist to keep the beat steady and rhythm smooth, a band’s performance could fall apart. Too often drummers are overshadowed by flashier frontmen.

Hug a Drummer Day has evolved into a day when bands around the world perform and spotlight their drummers. The fun continues year-round on the Hug A Drummer Facebook page.

hug a drummer day

Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney

Hug A Drummer Day

Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee

What are you waiting for? Get out there and hug a drummer today!

More great drummers:
20 Best Drummers of All Time – LA Weekly
The 100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music – Spin
Drum Roll: The Top Ten Rock Drummers of All Time – Gibson
Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Drummers of All Time – Loudwire

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 9 is Rock ‘n’ Roll Day

rock 'n' roll dayToday is Rock ‘n’ Roll Day. It marks an end as well as a beginning. On July 9, 1956, Dick Clark took over as the host of a show called Bandstand. Less than three weeks before, it had slipped through another man’s hands.

Bandstand premiered in 1950 on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, PA, and consisted of short musical films—the precursor of music videos—interspersed with interviews of studio guests. Host Bob Horn lobbied to change the format to a TV dance party, with teenagers dancing live to the latest records. The revamped show debuted in October 1952 and was a huge success, making the station owners happy and Horn a wealthy man.

But on June 21, 1956, Horn was arrested for drunk driving. He was fired and producer Tony Mammarella filled in while a new host was chosen. Horn’s poor judgment proved to be the opportunity of a lifetime for radio DJ Dick Clark, who had narrowly escaped disgrace himself in the payola scandal that destroyed the career of Alan Freed, to whom National Disc Jockey Day (January 20) is dedicated.

rock 'n' roll day

Dick Clark, July 1956

Clark’s star rose as Horn’s plummeted: In November, Horn was again arrested for drunk driving, this time causing an accident that injured a small girl. He was indicted on the same day for statutory rape. (He was eventually acquitted.) His reputation in tatters, Horn moved to Texas and changed his last name to Adams.

On August 5, 1957, the show went national, changing its name to American Bandstand. Clark, the man who would become known as the “world’s oldest teenager,” whose birthday (November 30) is celebrated as Perpetual Youth Day, helmed the show for over thirty years.

Bob Horn died of a heat stroke-induced heart attack while mowing his lawn in Houston, TX on July 31, 1966, at the age of 50. He’s buried in Houston’s Forest Park Cemetery (as Bob Horn, not Adams) with “Bandstand” inscribed across the top of his headstone.

Dick Clark died of a heart attack following a medical procedure in Santa Monica, CA on April 18, 2012, at the age of 82. Clark was cremated on April 20, and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Let’s have a dance party and remember them both on Rock ‘n’ Roll Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 27 is Happy Birthday to You Day

happy birthday to you dayToday is Happy Birthday to You Day. On this date in 1893, teachers (and sisters) Mildred and Patty Hill composed a tune and lyrics for kindergarten students to sing before starting their school day. It was called “Good Morning to All” and used the music we now recognize as “Happy Birthday to You.”

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning dear children
Good morning to all.

It was published that year in Song Stories for the Kindergarten. A few years later the lyrics were modified and the first note split to reflect the two syllables of Happy. Copyrights for that second version have been sold many times over the years. Many have complained that a song almost 125 years old should be in the public domain.

In 1996, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the industry’s main professional guild, sent letters to 6,000 Girl Scout camps demanding payment of fees for the singing of “Happy Birthday to You,” and “God Bless America,” among others. ASCAP’s director of licensing later apologized, saying, “What we were really chasing here…was going after the summer camps that are really like sending your kids to a resort.”

On August 5, 2013, scientists sent special instructions to the Mars Rover Curiosity’s surface sampling device. The apparatus, which employs a sound transducer at the business end to help it more easily penetrate a variety of soils and clays, audibly “hummed” Happy Birthday to You in celebration of its first year on the surface of a planet an average of 140 million miles away from Earth. NASA paid a royalty fee.

Fights over the validity of copyrights continued until June 27, 2016, when a judge affirmed a $14 million class-action judgment against Warner/Chappell Music, which had purchased the copyright in 1988. Poetic justice? Perhaps. Estimates that the company has made at least $2 million in fees per year since acquiring it rendered the penalty more poetic than just.

At least, we can all sing happy birthday without having to pay a toll. But what about this other schoolyard favorite:

Happy birthday to you,
You live in a zoo,
You look like a monkey
You act like one too.

That one might cost you.

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays