The Man With the Golden Ear
January 19, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Rock impresario Don Kirshner has died in Boca Raton, Florida at age 76.

Starting out in the Brill Building era, Kirshner went from a budding wanna-be songwriter with Bobby Darin to managing many of the era's best songwriters. He was also largely responsible for much music of two 60/70s bubblegum staples, the Monkees and the Archies.

He's probably best remembered for Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, which showcased some of the biggest musical acts of the 1970s, and kept many a teenager (including myself) home on Saturday night.
posted by CosmicRayCharles (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Paul Shaffer on Don Kirshner: 'He loved the impression'

Thanks for the tunes, Don. Even the Monkees.
posted by fixedgear at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don Kirshner always held a small place in my heart for dedicating an entire episode of Rock Concert to one of my favorite bands, Sparks. They weren't very well known at the time, and I remember when discussions at parties (I was a high school freshman) turned to favorite bands, it seemed like no one in the world besides me had heard of them. The Monday morning after that episode aired, some of my friends mentioned "I saw that weird group you like on TV."
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:51 AM on January 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

posted by Joe Beese at 10:58 AM on January 19, 2011

Partial list of performers!
posted by Joe Beese at 11:00 AM on January 19, 2011

RIP, Don.

I watched Rock Concert on and off once I was able to stay awake that late, but usually found the acts to be too mainstream. So I was thrilled to find out that Iggy Pop was going to be on the show as he was rarely seen on prime time or American late night tv. (Iggy does daytime, American night time, and Canadian night time).

Sadly, Iggy didn't appear live, but they did show the awesome videos for Five Foot One and I'm Bored. Went against the rock concert theme, I guess, but maybe Iggy was a big get in those days.
posted by maudlin at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2011

Rock Concert was amazing to me as a kid because, unlike shows like American Bandstand, the artists were actually playing, not lip-syncing. Austin City Limits owes him a debt of gratitude.
posted by tommasz at 11:10 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Only 76? He seemed impossibly old to me back in the late '70s. Thank you, Don Kirshner, for the crazy salad that was Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. Changed my life.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:14 AM on January 19, 2011

My cousin was friends with Don's kids growing up. Don was incredibly generous to him and all the kids in their school. Endless concert tickets and free albums. Many opportunities to watch the filming of Rock Concert. I myself used to stay up late every Saturday night to watch.

He will be missed in the music community and as a generous father.

posted by AugustWest at 11:19 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bummer. Watching Rock Concert was highlight of my mis-spent teen years.

Rock on, Don.

posted by Thorzdad at 11:20 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm currently reading Ken Emerson's Always Magic In The Air -- a portrait of the Brill Building writers and producers in their heyday. Kirshner is a major character in the book. I'd always thought of him as a no-talent money man, but Emerson portrays him as a sympathetic figure who was a driving force behind some of the classic Brill Building hits and who was a real mensch when it came to taking care of the creative talent who were working for him.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:21 AM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

posted by clavdivs at 11:23 AM on January 19, 2011

posted by Kinbote at 11:27 AM on January 19, 2011

From The Monkees to Rock Concert to inspiring Paul Schaeffer's awesome SNL impression, Kirshner was behind a lot of the stuff that entertained me in the '70s. RIP, sir.
posted by Gelatin at 11:45 AM on January 19, 2011

So he, uh, took the last train to Clarkesville?

(lifted from a friend, sorry)
posted by sourwookie at 11:48 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don Kirshner's Rock Concert was some great stuff in the pre-MTV cable videotape days.

posted by marxchivist at 11:51 AM on January 19, 2011

"Rock Concert" was my first experience with television in stereo.

With a cooperating radio station in town (I lived in Los Angeles) they would do what was called "simulcasting" where the audio for the show was played on FM.

All you had to do was get a stereo near the TV and voila!, stereo TV.

Thanks Don, RIP.


Also, one evening, the jocks at the radio station doing the simulcasting (KMET?) decided to keep going after the concert. They were watching the TV in the studio, ad-libbing to "Plan 9 From Outer Space" which in turn I could hear on the radio in place of the original soundtrack as I watched the movie.

It was screamingly funny and, in that time before ubiquitous video recording, something you can only tell people about.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:29 PM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Loved Rock Concert, though for awhile my 8-year-old self had a little trouble keeping the actual Don Kirshner and Paul Shaffer's SNL impersonation straight.

posted by scody at 12:49 PM on January 19, 2011

"Rock Concert" and the Monkees were the least of his accomplishments. The music sucked by that time anyway. As PeterMcDermott points out, his real contribution came in the early 60s, in the Brill Building mileau, where he provided a stable creative environment for the likes of Bobby Darin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and helped make the era between Elvis and the Beatles as musically rich as any before or since.
posted by Faze at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2011

posted by kimota at 12:52 PM on January 19, 2011

. Used to love his show!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:37 PM on January 19, 2011

No one mentioned that he was also a dynaayaaamic pefoahmah.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the tunes, Don. Even Especially the Monkees.
posted by msconduct at 2:56 PM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Don Kirshner's Rock Concert was certainly a part of my past. Mom and Dad would be arguing but it wouldn't matter because Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick was looking right at me through the t.v.

posted by Sailormom at 3:02 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don Kirshner introduced me to the Ramones. Thank you, Don.

posted by stargell at 3:14 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I bought Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model" after seeing him on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and spent the whole summer in Ireland listening to it. That album really changed the style of music I listened to back then. Thanks Don, I really wish I could find Rock Concert on DVD.
posted by evilelf at 4:45 PM on January 19, 2011

RIP, Mr Kirschner. You help bring us some great tunes.
posted by jonmc at 4:55 PM on January 19, 2011

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