If you’re old enough to remember New Year’s celebrations prior to 1972, then you remember the hideous music of Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians. Lombardo was a long-time New Year’s Eve institution, dating back to his first NYE radio broadcast in 1928. Fortunately, Dick Clark (Great American Things, December 14, 2010) had a better idea, and put the word “Rockin'” in his show’s title so a younger generation would know there was a new kid on the block.
New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has been a fixture since then, with the exception of December 31, 1999, when the networks were anticipating that computers would go kerflooey and airplanes would start falling from the sky due to the Y2K bug. The first couple of years found the show on NBC, but it then moved to ABC where it’s thrived ever since. That first year, the musical guests were Blood, Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy, and Al Green. Just as now, much of the music and the studio celebration was prerecorded, cut in with the live festivities and countdown in Times Square (Great American Things, December 31, 2009).
The show hasn’t quite been the same since the unflappable Dick Clark had his stroke in 2004. Regis Philbin took host duties for a couple of years, but now Ryan Seacrest is the show’s executive producer and co-host. He does a fine job, and in time the show will feel like it belongs to him. In the meantime, whether you like the musical guests or not, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is the place to see the new year arrive in New York City – and regardless of what they show in Sydney or Paris or wherever, it’s not the new year until it comes to Times Square.