RIP Don Kirshner

The death of Don Kirshner has brought on a wave of nostalgia for a time when music on television was new.  When I was growing up in the 70s, “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” was one of the only music-oriented shows on television.  It was shown late at night on the weekends, and as opposed to daytime dance programs Soul Train and American Bandstand, or evening’s Solid Gold, “Rock Concert” brought album rock to television, in performance.

Don Kirshner’s legacy will be that he brought music to television in a way that bridged the sixties dance party model Dick Clark/Bandstand and Don Cornelius/Soul Train to the MTV-performance and conceptual video phase.  Don Kirshner often showed “promotional films,” later called videos, for really big artists that didn’t come to the studio.  One unique aspect to the show was the fact that Kirshner wasn’t an announcer – he was a music publishing executive famous for eliminating the artist from the recording process with The Archies after growing frustrated with his previous creation, The Monkees.

His lack of enthusiasm towards the stars may have showed a bit, especially when Paul Shaffer exaggerated his monotone and created a great imitation seen on early Saturday Night Live episodes (he would introduce Belushi performing as Joe Cocker to add to the authenticity of the imitation). Shaffer says he got a little nervous on camera. Nevertheless, Don Kirshner was a force for a long time and he made a valuable contribution to the music industry. I agree with his own opinion that he belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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