With New Year’s Eve officially upon us, Americans everywhere will be tuning into ABC to watch the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square on, what is affectionately still named, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” After the man himself, Clark, died in 2012, Ryan Seacrest took over as the principal host of the annual special, and the network notably didn’t change the name of the show to accommodate.
Seacrest now hosts the event under the title “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest,” prompting many to wonder why the show simply didn’t change its name to “Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin Eve.” The answer, according to an in-depth article written in Vanity Fair, is simply that no other host could ever claim ownership over the wholly and uniquely crafted show that Clark created in 1972. According to the article, “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” was Clark’s idea when he noticed that the current New Year’s celebration on TV, Guy Lombardo’s ballroom event at the Waldorf Astoria, had gotten boring and out of touch with what people in the 1970s wanted for their televised entertainment. Seeing an opportunity, the TV personality doned the host’s chair every year, except 2004-2005, to usher in the new year. Since that time, Clark’s show has ballooned into the most popular way for viewers to ring in the new year both in the U.S. and worldwide, according to its official website.
Unfortunately, when the ball dropped to usher in the year 2012, no one knew that it would be the last time the iconic former host of “American Bandstand” would be there to do the honors. After the host passed away, the network announced that the then 40-year-old tradition would continue with Seacrest as the main host. The “American Idol” frontman had been a staple in the show since 2005 and was quickly rushed to a place of notoriety after Clark suffered a very serious stroke in 2004. Due to health concerns, Clark was absent for the 2004-2005 show, having his friend, Regis Philbin, take over. When he returned in 2005-2006, Clark’s health was a problem as the stroke affected his speech, as People notes. Unwilling to stop hosting the show he loved, he took on Seacrest as a permanent co-host, with the title change “with Ryan Seacrest” becoming official in 2009.
“‘Surreal’ is probably the most appropriate word,” Seacrest told ABC News before his 2012-2013 show as the new main host. “You think back 40 years ago, before I was born, [Dick Clark] started the tradition with a camera a light and a microphone, and he carried that tradition for so many years. As a fan of television and a fan of broadcasting as a kid, I not only watched him, because I’d be home and my parents would be out, but I watched and studied how he hosted these shows. To be standing there in Times Square with him years ago was very special for me.”
Following that performance, Seacrest hosted a two-hour tribute to Dick Clark that celebrated both his life and career. Since then, the show’s name has remained the same out of respect to its creator and the man that refused to quit ushering in the new year with America each year.