Sioux Falls musician enjoyed time on tour with Dick Clark
Famed Sioux Falls musician Myron Lee remembers entertainer Dick Clark as “just one of the guys.”
In the early 1960s, Myron Lee and the Caddies were working as a backup band for Bobby Vee, when Vee told them of an opportunity to tour with Dick Clark.
“They called it ‘Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars’,” Lee said. “He said Dick Clark needed a band to back up all these artists, and so Bobby Vee recommended me, and that’s how I happened to get that job.”
Lee is well-known for his ’60s hit single “Peter Rabbit” and is an inductee of the Iowa and South Dakota Hall of Fame.
Working with Dick Clark, who died Wednesday at age 82, was a highlight of Lee’s career.
“I was a young guy too, and a fan myself, like every other kid growing up watching ‘American Bandstand,’ ” Lee said. “To be riding day and night with this idol of all of us, it was unbelievable. Here you’re watching Dick Clark all the way through high school, and all the sudden you’re working with him.”
Clark died at a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital of a heart attack. Throughout the years, Clark was involved with a variety of entertainment projects, including four decades hosting the annual New Year’s Eve telecast on ABC from Times Square.
Lee was a nervous wreck the first time he met Clark. It was just before the first tour kicked off, and Lee and his band had just finished rehearsing.
“I walked into the dressing room to get dressed and get ready to do that first show, and I wanted to crawl under a rock, I wanted to get on the first plane and go back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that’s how scared I was,” Lee said.
“The first guy I see is Dick Clark, and he comes over, and I’ll never forget, he put his hand out to shake my hand and says ‘Hi, Myron, I’m Dick Clark,’ just as if I didn’t know, you know?”
Lee told Clark how nervous he was.
“He said, ‘Myron, I’ve been listening to the rehearsals, it’s just going to be just fine, believe me. Everybody goes through this the first time, I’ll guarantee, and remember what I’m telling you, four days from now, when everything smoothes out, you’ll go back and laugh at yourself for being so worried about this’,” Lee said.
“It was so true, because the fourth day after that, I remembered what he said, and that band sounded so good and so smooth, it really was a thrill.”
Myron Lee and the Caddies toured twice with Dick Clark, eight weeks in 1963 and eight weeks in 1965, with stops all across the United States and Canada, sometimes playing for crowds of 20,000 people. Each tour featured 12 of the top acts of the time.
Through the tour, Lee played with acts such as Conway Twitty and The Rolling Stones.
Clark was famous, but Lee said he was still down to earth, and would help pack up equipment after shows. They kept in touch following their tours, including in the past year.
“Every once in a while I would write him a note, and he would write right back and he’d want to know how the band was doing, where we were at, how everything was going,” he said.
“He’s a nice, nice, man.”