Don Kirshner

Happy Birthday

Donald Clark Kirshner
April 17, 1934
New York City, NY

Don Kirshner known as The Man With the Golden Ear, (and golden wallet), was an American music publisher, rock music producer, talent manager, and songwriter. He was best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups, such as the Monkees, Kansas, and the Archies.

Don Kirshner was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Gilbert Kirshner, a tailor, and Belle Jaffe. He graduated from George Washington High School in Manhattan, and went on to study at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey. After graduation he went to work for Vanderbilt Music, a small music publishing company owned by former Tin Pan Alley lyricist Al Lewis.

Kirshner achieved his first major success in the late 1950s and early 1960s as co-owner of the influential New York-based publishing company Aldon Music with partner Al Nevins, which had under contract at various times several of the most important songwriters of the so-called "Brill Building" school, including Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, Paul Simon, Phil Spector, Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Jack Keller.
Kirshner was hired by the producers of the Monkees to provide hit-worthy songs to accompany the television program, within a demanding schedule. Kirshner quickly corralled songwriting talent from his Brill Building stable of writers and musicians to create catchy, engaging tracks which the band could pretend to perform on the show. This move was not because of any lack of the Monkees' talent but was required in order to keep up with the demanding schedule to churn out ready-to-go recordings to give each week's episode its own song. While Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork were already experienced musicians – and Davy Jones was an established musical performer – as a working band, they had little experience; and Micky Dolenz was completely new to drums. Each Monkee was retained for vocal duties but they did not actually play instruments on the records.

The formula worked phenomenally well – the singles "Last Train to Clarksville", written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and "I'm a Believer" written by Neil Diamondand the first two Monkees albums were produced and released in time to catch the initial wave of the television program's popularity. The lead guitar on "Last Train To Clarksville", "Valleri" and the Monkees theme was written and played by Louie Shelton. After a year, the Monkees wanted a chance to play their own instruments on the records. They also wanted more control over which songs would be released as singles. Further, when word belatedly came out that the band had not played on the first season's songs, a controversy arose, and the public expressed a desire to hear the television stars perform their own music.

The situation reached a boling point and Kirshner was released. The Monkees never had another hit song and the show ended. Good call Nesmith. 

In the fall of 1972, Kirshner was asked by ABC Television to serve as executive producer and "creative consultant" for their new "In Concert" series, which aired every other week in the 11:30 p.m. slot normally showing The Dick Cavett Show. The following September, Kirshner left "In Concert" to produce and host his own syndicated weekly rock-concert program called Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. With its long-form live performances, as compared to rehearsed, often lip-synced performances that were the staple of earlier television shows like Shindig!, it was a new direction for pop music presentation. The last show aired in 1981, the year that MTV was launched.

The program presented many of the most successful rock bands of the era, but what was consistent week-to-week was Kirshner's deliberately "flat" delivery as the program host. In its final season, Rock Concert was mostly hosted by Kirshner's son and daughter, whose delivery was the same as their father's. Kirshner's "wooden" presentation style was later lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Paul Shaffer, most notably in Shaffer's introduction of the Blues Brothers during the duo's television debut.

Kirshner discovered and allowed the talented people to create, a lot of incredible music of our childhood. Kirshner died on January 17, 2001 at 76 at his Boca Raton, Florida home.

We take this time to Remember Don Kirshner on his Birthday!  Thank You for the music, and entertainment Don! You are missed!

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