April 17, 1934 -January 17, 2011
Don Kirshner was a music publisher, producer, songwriter-manager, and television host who rightfully earned the nickname, The Man With The Golden Ear. His music career began during the ’50s when he and his partner, Al Nevins, launched Aldon Music, a publishing company that included such future superstar talent as Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, and Neil Sedaka. Kirshner also owned three successful record labels during the early part of his career. In the early ’60s, the creators of a new NBC television program enlisted Kirshner to provide songs for that show. The influential sit-com followed the fictional adventures of an up-and-coming band as it bounced from one loony situation to another while performing catchy pop songs along the way. The show was called The Monkees, and Kirshner brought songs like “I’m A Believer,” “Last Train To Clarksville,” and several others that would become hits that help define the era. He later helped create an animated version of that same concept with The Archies. Then in 1973, Kirshner became a television star in his own right with the launch of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. The late night show offered full live performances of songs by current rock stars, making it unique in a time where lip syncing on television was the norm. For many rock music fans in a pre-MTV, pre-youtube era, it was THE only way to enjoy your favorite bands live. Along with being executive producer, Kirshner introduced each act in a monotone manner that was later popularly parodied by Paul Shaffer on Saturday Night Live. The show’s premiere episode included the Rolling Stones and and the series continued at that pace hosting the likes of Alice Cooper, the Allman Brothers Band, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Rush, the Eagles, the Ramones, KISS, and Kansas. It quickly became serious competition for other late night programs like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The show ran until 1981. Don Kirshner was 76 when he died of heart failure on January 17, 2011.
Thanks to Craig Rosen at Number1Albums for the help