The History & Legacy of ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’

Dick Clark leads America into the New Year, Sunday, Dec. 31(11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on
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In 1972, we began celebrating the New Year with Dick Clark. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (NYRE) was created by Clark (known as the host of American Bandstand) as a way to compete with Guy Lombardo’s long-running New Year’s Eve specials and appeal to a younger audience. The first two years were hosted by Three Dog Night and George Carlin and when the special moved over to ABC in 1974, Clark became the host and was a beloved staple for many years until his death in 2012. A few years prior, Ryan Seacrest took over the main hosting duties as Clark’s health began failing.

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve went to the top spot for entertainment on New Year’s Eve after the death of Lombardo and has consistently remained high in ratings despite competing content. The special is broadcast primarily from Times Square in New York City, showcasing the crowds and festivities, including the iconic Ball drop at midnight. Clark was always one for traditions and made sure to kiss his wife, Kari Wigton Clark, on air at midnight every year.

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Dick Clark 1991

Everett Collection

With Clark’s American Bandstand history, he knew how to find top talents to perform and often called in popular celebrities from recent years to help host. For instance, in 1980, the show was co-hosted by Happy DaysErin Moran and The Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider (who got in big trouble recently!). However, it wasn’t always easy. On the 25th anniversary of the show, Clark opened up about the greatest challenges he faced including harsh weather and even a group of nude attendees in Times Square!

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Dick Clark wife Kari Wigton Clark

Heidi Gutman/ABC/Everett Collection

Even so, Clark truly made history with the New Year’s Eve special and to honor him, the name remains. He became so synonymous with New Year’s Eve that he made cameos in New Year’s Eve-themed episodes including The Simpsons. This year, Seacrest is back to co-host with singer Rita Ora. There will be performances by Megan Thee Stallion, Sabrina Carpenter, Jelly Roll, Tyla, and others. It begins at 8 p.m. ET on December 31, 2023, on ABC. Will you be watching?

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