Early in the morning of Dec. 6, 2004, Dick Clark had just finished doing a phone interview from his Malibu home, to publicize what was to be his 31st New Year's Rockin' Eve special, when something went terribly wrong—America's oldest teenager was having a stroke. His wife, Kari, 64, rushed him to Burbank's St. Joseph's hospital, but the damage had been done. Two years later, Clark, 77, has still not fully recovered: His speech remains awkward and his movements are slow. Even a simple walk is an ordeal. "I live at the beach, and I look out and see couples strolling along in the sand," he says. "I can't do that anymore and I miss it."

Clark's days now revolve around speech and physical therapy appointments. "I get up and work with a therapist for two hours, then I spend two or three hours at the office, then I go to another therapist in the afternoon," he says. "I take a nap, and that pretty much consumes the day." Still, despite his frustration at not being able to do "everyday things that are normal to people—like turning around and picking something off the floor," Clark is happy to report his mind is "clicking away. I may not be quite as busy as before, but I like to be active."

His latest project? Gathering nearly 1,000 items from his 50-year collection of rock-and-roll artifacts (see box)—including everything from Jerry Lee Lewis's piano to a lock of Elvis's hair—to be sold by Guernsey's auction house in New York City on Dec. 5. The sale will in part benefit the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program, but it's also got another purpose, says Clark, who will be popping up once again on Rockin' Eve later this month. "It's a tribute," he jokes, "to the pack rats of the world."