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January 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Don Kirshner

Don Kirshner, who had a hand in almost every stage of rock ‘n’ roll’s development over the past half century, died on Monday in Boca Raton, FL at age 76. In the late 1950s, he formed Aldon music with the late Al Nevins, a composer-musician, that brought together a host of young New York songwriters at his office across from Broadway’s famed Brill Building, where they churned out hundreds of hit songs for emerging talent.

Kirshner - 1973

Many of those songwriters went on to become star performers themselves. Kirshner branched into television in the mid-’60’s, creating an American version of the Beatles called the Monkees, and assigning his songwriters to create music for their television series, modeled after the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night movie. By 1972, Kirshner was hosting his own TV series, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, giving many performers their first television exposure. In an interview with the Associated Press, singer Tony Orlando, who once recorded demos for Kirshner for $50 a week, said, “This was a man who created the cornerstones of American pop music as we know it today. … Without Donny Kirshner, the music we know of today would not be the same. He was a game-changer.”