An American song publisher and rock producer who is best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups, such as The Monkees and The Archies.
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, Howard Greenfield, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Jack Keller.
As a producer-promoter, Kirshner was influential in starting off the career of singers and songwriters, including Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Sarah Dash of Labelle, as well as discovering the occasional rock act such as Kansas.
Kirshner also had three record labels. The first was Chairman Records, a subsidiary of London Records.
Although he was responsible for scores of hits in the 1960s, he was only to have one on the Chairman label, 1963's "Martian Hop" by The Ran-Dells, which reached #16 nationally. Kirshner later had two other record labels, Calendar, which had early hits by The Archies and the Kirshner label, which had later hits by The Archies and Kansas. Calendar/Kirshner recordings were first distributed by RCA Records, then CBS Records.
He was also involved in Dimension Records.
In the early 1960s, Kirshner was a successful music publisher as head of his own company, Aldon Music, with Al Nevins, bringing performers such as Bobby Darin together with songwriters and musicians.
Kirshner was hired by the producers of The Monkees to provide hitworthy 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.
Kirshner's later venture was The Archies, an animated series where there were only the studio musicians to be managed.
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.
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.
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. Shaffer and Kirshner worked together on the short-lived situation comedy, A Year at the Top, which Kirshner co-produced with Norman Lear, and in which Shaffer starred.
Kirshner received the 2007 Songwriters Hall of Fame Abe Olman Publishing Award.
He died of heart failure in hospital on January 17, 2011, at age 76.
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