Dick Clark’s Still Rockin’ New Years Eve

For millions, it can’t be a proper New Year’s Eve without Dick Clark presiding over NYC’s Times Square festivities. And this year will be no different.

The one-time “World’s Oldest Teenager” suffered a stroke four years ago, but that won’t keep him from a 36th year hosting the televised celebrations. At 79, he’s been in front of the cameras for 61 years and helped forge the music industry as we all know it – even predicting the emergence of digital delivery systems for music and the demise of the physical “record.”

Photo: AP Photo
The "world’s oldest teenager" brings in the New Year from New York’s Times Square.

He calls his involvement with “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Secrest” a labor of love and “not really a job” in an e-mail interview with the Associated Press.

“Obviously, I’m not able to be as actively involved as I used to be out in the street, up on a platform and interacting with the crowds in Times Square,” Clark wrote. “Thank goodness my friend Ryan Seacrest is able to handle that end of the activity on the show these days.”

ABC-TV’s live extravaganza will include performances by Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, Fergie, Fall Out Boy, Natasha Bedingfield, Will.I.Am, Pussycat Dolls, , Jesse McCartney, Ne-Yo and Kellie Pickler.

Photo: AP Photo
American Music Awards, Nokia Theater, Los Angeles, Calif.

The “American Bandstand” icon and longtime producer of the New Year’s extravaganza, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Golden Globes has long considered them my “television kids.”

He’s also watched their ratings plummet in recent years.

“There was a time when they attracted a huge audience,” Clark wrote. “The audiences have dropped off as the years have gone by because of increasing television competition.”

That may not be the case this year, at least, with “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”

NYC police are already reportedly fretting over massive crowds thanks to the Jonas Brothers appearance and no doubt ABC is hoping that will mean a spike in ratings, too.

Clark was there at the birth of rock ’n’ roll. “American Bandstand” kicked off July 9, 1956, and he’s witnessed dramatic changes. Not that those changes would come as much of a surprise.

Photo: AP Photo
Chicago Theater, Chicago, Ill.

“I can remember writing an article several years ago where I let my imagination run wild,” Clark wrote. “I said we’d see the day when music is delivered directly to our homes, and delivered to us in some form of wireless communication.

“The fun of actually holding a record in our hands will disappear and we’ll all have our own individual library of our favorite songs that we’ll listen to at home, at work, in the car wherever we happened to go.”

These days, there’s a generation of kids who have probably never even seen a vinyl album, let alone bought one.

Clark divides his time between his Malibu home and Burbank office. There’s an hourlong therapy session each morning, then he answers mail and phone calls, attends meetings and reads.

Photo: AP Photo
American Music Awards, Nokia Theater, Los Angeles, Calif. 

The day ends with his devoted wife Kari.

“My wife and I may join friends for dinner at a restaurant, attend a movie or just grab a bite to eat by ourselves away from home,” Clark wrote. “Occasionally, we’ll attend a music concert. Recently we’ve seen Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Frankie Valli and Cher.”

And to ring in 2009, he’ll be able to catch the Jonas Brothers, too.