Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don Kirshner's Golden Ear

It seems like I've always known about Don Kirshner.  His name was on the credits of the Monkees TV show and their albums. He later hosted his one of the first live music TV shows, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.  I watched it every week. The talent was so diverse that you could see the Rolling Stones, The New York Dolls or the Allman Brothers. 

Don died this week from heart failure at age 76.  He like Jerry Weintraub and a list of others, either hailed from the Bronx or Brooklyn.  Don was from the Bronx. These guys realized early on that they may not have the talent to be a songwriter or an actor themselves, but they did know a hit.  Neil started Aldon Music, one the most successful publishing companies of the early rock era.  He signed Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Doc Pomus, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Mort Shuman and Neil Diamond.  The amount of hits written by this group is staggering.  Don paired the Monkees with some of the best songwriters, many whom wrote for him including Boyce and Hart who are forever associated with the group.  From there he took on The Archies who scored with Sugar, Sugar.  He later had his own record label.  He was immortalized by Paul Shaffer who portrayed him on Saturday Night Live.  Gilda Radner played his daughter, Karen.  In real life Don did not have a daughter named Karen. 

Paul talks about his relationship with Kirshner in the LA Times.
 "He was a great character, a lovable character, certainly the most colorful character I’ve ever met. He was very fast talking, always very emotional about the music he loved and the music he was making. He was the ultimate when it came to promoting the songs he loved. He’d go on these runs and talk so fast that sometimes he’d break himself up."

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