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In Passing: Don Kirshner (1934-2011)

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Don Kirshner passed away January 17, at the age of 76. Many of today’s music fans may not have heard of him, but he had a long career behind the scenes as the owner of a publishing company and three record labels, the producer of a long running television concert series, and one of the people responsible for the success of The Monkees.

Kirshner’s first claim to fame was as the co-owner of The Aldon Music Publishing Company which employed such songwriters as Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Ellie Greenwich, and Tommy Boyce among others.

He would go on to own such record labels as Chairman, Kirshner, and Dimension. Kirshner was the most successful, signing such groups as Kansas and the studio created The Archies, who would produce one of the ultimate bubblegum songs in “Sugar Sugar,” which would top The American singles charts for 4 weeks during the fall of 1969.

During his time as the president of Screen Gems he was one of the people responsible for the success of The Monkees. He picked many of the songs for the group which would sell millions of copies.

His lasting claim to fame was his television series, “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” which aired 1973-1981. It was a weekly concert series that aired 230 episodes. Groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, The Allman Brothers, The Steve Miller Band, Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, The Bee Gees, Abba, The Police, David Bowie, The Eagles, and hundreds of others made appearances.

He was responsible for a lot of popular music during the course of his life and left a lasting legacy. He was also married to the same woman for fifty years, which is another testament to a life well spent.


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About David Bowling

  • In those days before MTV, Don gave us something great to watch every week. It’s hard to believe that show went off the air in 1981; I remember it like it was yesterday.