Don Kirshner

Ahmet Ertegun Award


Don Kirshner's career spanned the heyday of New York's Brill Building, which was the ground zero of pop songwriting in the 1950s and 60s, included a pivotal role in creating the Monkees and the Archies, and later found him hosting the long-running live-music television show Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.

Kirshner began his music career when he met fellow Bronx native Robert Cassotto, They began writing songs together. Cassotto changed his name to Bobby Darin and went on to a successful recording career. In 1958, Kirshner embarked upon a new partnership, founding Aldon Music with musician Al Nevin. Aldon was a songwriting factory, where teams of writers churned out songs to be sold to the stars of the day. Neil Diamond was one of the first songwriters signed up to Aldon, and the company roster soon grew to include such future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, Gerry Goffin and Carole King and Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. In 1963, Kirshner and Nevins sold the Aldon songs catalog to Screen Gems. Kirshner embarked upon the second act of his career, masterminding the made for-television group the Monkees and the made-for-cartoon group the Archies.  By 1972, Kirshner was concentrating on his television career. That year he became executive producer on ABC's live-music show, In Concert. In 1973, he debuted Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. The show hosted performances by a who's who of rock luminaries, including the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Blondie, the Ramones and the Allman Brothers, among many others.  Don Kirshner's Rock Concert was broadcast until 1982, and Kirshner retired, first to New Jersey, then Boca Raton, Florida, where he died of heart failure on January 17, 2011.

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