Twenty-nine years ago, when ABC lost the Grammys to CBS, ABC executives fretted about how to regain a big awards-show audience.
Then came Dick Clark to save the day.
"I said, 'Well, we can't create another academy' -- but we did do the first popularity poll," Clark said.
And he's been involved ever since as the producer of the American Music Awards, booking locations and making many of the show's behind-the-scenes arrangements.
For a 71-year-old, he thinks he's fairly aware of what's going on in the contemporary music business.
"I'm on the radio five days a week as a disc jockey, and I listen to the radio a lot. For a guy my age, I'm reasonably up-to-date. Some things aren't my particular taste, but that's how I've lived my life -- I haven't been a fan of everything I've played."
That counts for "American Bandstand" all the way to the present.
And Clark is the first to admit that the music business has changed in that time period -- primarily in the fact that it is now a business.
"You used to be able to go into your garage and distribute your record yourself. Now everything is controlled by five mega-conglomerates. It's brutally difficult and competitive -- and that's not always compatible with artistry." And he sees more business concerns to come with Napster and other Internet issues.
But beyond the business and technical sides of the industry, he's not sure that music trends have changed much.
"Back in the '50s and '60s, you had youthful performers who appealed to a certain sector of the audience, and you had country and harder-edged music."
One thing that has changed, though, is the amount of crossover opportunity for artists who want it.
"Back then, Faith Hill would have been country all her life, and now she's up for American Music Awards in three categories": favorite female artist in the pop/rock category, favorite artist and favorite album in the country category and favorite artist in the adult contemporary category.
Other multiple nominees include Creed and Marc Anthony with three each and Toni Braxton, Sisqo, Destiny's Child, Celine Dion, Eminem, Alan Jackson, 'N Sync and Britney Spears with two each.
Spears will be host for the show with LL Cool J at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC. Performers will include Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, SHeDaisy, Spears, Marilyn Manson and Jessica Simpson. Aerosmith has been named the Award of Achievement winner.
Those vying for the Fan's Choice Award are Creed, Destiny's Child, Eminem, Faith Hill, 'N Sync and Spears. To cast a vote, go to www.americanmusicawards.com.
Clark admits that there's been a proliferation of awards shows -- enough that he jokes about "Awards R Us." But he's also willing to defend the phenomenon.
"The truth is, as long as the public likes them and somebody watches, they'll proliferate. People like awards shows because they're unpredictable and you never know what's going to happen."