He hadn't been in great health since his stroke in 2004--a stroke that severely limited his speech, but not his ability or desire to continue to at least make appearances on his annual New Year's Rockin' Eve specials. But, today, we lost him. American icon Dick Clark has died, of a heart attack, at age 82.

If I could've ever spoken to him, I'd say, "Thanks for the memories." When I was a kid, there was never a Saturday that passed that I didn't watch "American Bandstand." It was part of the schedule, part of the deal.

I started out at 7AM with "Superfriends" and a bowl of cereal. I would end at noon with Dick Clark and "American Bandstand." Then I was free to go outside and play until 9 or 10PM or until my dad stood on the porch and whistled for us all to come in.

But, yeah, even on the nicest days, my sister and I usually weren't out of the house until Dick Clark put his hand on his forehead, waved, and said, "So long." Dick Clark was also the best of all the hosts that emceed the most exciting game show of all time, "The $25,000 Pyramid." And, of course, you couldn't ring in the New Year without him.

But my best memories of this entertainment legend will be hokey spotlight dances, Rate-a-Record, watching him sit in the middle of a gaggle of teenagers holding the album of whatever guest he was about to introduce, and  then seeing him welcome those guests--often, soon-to-be superstars, if not legends themselves. Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Madonna, among so many others, all graced his stage at the beginnings of their careers.

Dick Clark's was the hand that rocked the cradle of popular music. And you know what they say--the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. A legend--almost a figure of American folklore--is gone. Dick Clark, dead at 82.

"So long."