While everyone knows Dick Clark and his "American Bandstand" Philadelphia roots, Clay Cole was just as popular in New York. His show was the first to host the Rolling Stones on US TV. Cole had been living out his retirement in Brunswick County, where he passed away this weekend.
A TV legend and Rock and Roll pioneer, Cole claimed his fame and fortune in the Big Apple. But for the past three years he called Oak Island home. WWAY caught up with him back in March to talk about his new book "Sha-Boom."
"I just remembered when I heard 'Sha-boom sha-boom la da da da,' or 'Womp-ba-ba-do-wop-a-womp-bam-boom,' or any of those wild songs, I understood it," Cole said. "They were speaking my language."
Cole understood the language of music and TV, which landed him a show that ran for nine years. The low-budget program lured big guests like music icon Tony Bennett.
"He puts his hand on my should and he says, "Hey, Clay? When are you gonna have me on your show?' I said, 'Mr. Bennett, any time you wanna. Come on.'"
Saturday Cole suffered a heart attack at his Oak Island home. News of the 72-year-old's death is still making it's way through the network of friends Cole made here in North Carolina.
Mike Forte and Jimmy Maglio grew up in the Northeast watching Cole's show. They both met Cole here and quickly formed a friendship.
"People didn't know him 40 years ago, but the fact is this guy is the nicest person, nicest guy," Maglio said.
For Forte it was more than friendship. The one-time member of The Duprees performed on the show as a teenager.
"As a kid from New York, to be on 'The Clay Cole Show,' that was big!" Forte said. "You couldn't talk to me, 'cause my head got this big. It was big."
Both men agree Cole will not be forgotten, and will be remembered as a Rock and Roll and TV icon.
"Consummate showman, and that's what I'll remember," Maglio said. "Nobody did it better than Clay."
Recently friends and fans have been pushing for Cole to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Forte and Maglio say Cole more than deserves that honor, and they will try to make sure he gets it.