The late Dick Clark was best known for championing pop and rock acts on his groundbreaking TV show American Bandstand. But at the same time, he wasn’t shy about featuring some country artists — and standing up for those he truly believed in.

Kenny Rogers, Jim Reeves, Jerry ReedMarvin Rainwater, Carl SmithCrystal Gayle, and Sawyer Brown were just some of the country artists who were featured on American Bandstand over the years.

In the clip below, Dick Clark interviews Pure Prairie League (featuring a young, long-haired Vince Gill!) during their 1980 American Bandstand appearance:

Clark’s obvious interest in and support of country is little surprise when you realize that he himself had a country pedigree. His first job in television was hosting Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders for WKTV in Utica, New York.

Rogers in particular felt Clark’s influence and support early on. Upon hearing of the TV legend’s death yesterday, he issued the following statement:

“I’m one of the lucky people who can say that I knew Dick Clark personally. Dick produced almost every awards show I was on during the 80’s, and he constantly encouraged me toward success. He will be missed by everyone-especially by those who knew him well.”

Rogers appeared on American Bandstand in 1957 and performed one of his earliest recordings, “That Crazy Feeling.”

As he told Fox News during a phone conversation yesterday, appearing on such a significant national program like that for the first time was certainly “frightening”–that is, until he met Clark. “Dick had such a away about him, of making you feel like that’s where you’re supposed to be, and you should be OK being there.”

“There are certain milestones in an entertainer’s life that really represent success,” Rogers went on to say, and appearing on American Bandstand “was one of them.”

Rogers said that Clark didn’t necessary “launch” his career. But “he gave me legitimacy when I was 19 years old.”

“There’s no question a moment like that puts you in a different league when you go back home to play your music.”

– Kurt Wolff, CBS Local


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