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Don Kirshner’s Birthday

Guest Blogger:  Rich Podolsky, the author of Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Earwrites in with a piece in celebration of Don Kirshner’s birthday today.

Don Kirshner Got His Wish

A year ago, just before what would have been his 78th birthday, Don Kirshner got his wish and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, what should have been a slam dunk didn’t come so easily.

You’d think that discovering and developing three of the greatest songwriting teams of all time—Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Barry Mann and Cythia Weil—would have been enough to get him there in one of the first years the Hall opened its doors.

Or the fact that he developed the Monkees, created the Archies and also discovered and Kansas—the band not the state—would have put him on the Hall’s doorstep.

Or at least if anyone took into consideration that he created and hosted the most successful and dynamic rock ’n’ roll show in television history, he should have been able to walk into the Hall of Fame. Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, which ran for nearly a decade and presented more than 500 of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll acts, ran from 1973 to ’82 and in the 30 years since it still hasn’t been surpassed.

But Don Kirshner was the bitter enemy of Ahmet Ertegun, the man who founded the Hall of Fame along with his partner Gerry Wexler, and until Ertegun passed away Kirshner had no chance for admittance. Even after his passing Kirshner was ignored by the insiders who comprise the Hall’s nominating committee.

Unfortunately Don Kirshner had to die to get in. After dying of heart failure early in 2011, Carole King campaigned vigorously and got her former boss in the Hall’s back door last April. His wife, Sheila, accepted the award, ironically named the Ahmet Ertegun Non-Performer Award.

After King made a passionate speech in his behalf she handed the award to Sheila, who hoisted it over her head in victory and proclaimed, “Donnie, you made it, babe.”

Somewhere up there Don Kirshner was enjoying the moment.

Rich Podolsky—

Author of Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear, and Neil Sedaka: Rock ‘N’ Roll Survivor (due 9/1/13)

Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear

In 1958, long before he created and hosted Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, the most dynamic rock-and-roll series in television history, before he developed the Monkees and created the Archies, Don Kirshner was a 23-year-old kid with just a dream in his pocket. Five years later he was the prince of pop music. He did it by building Aldon Music, a song publishing firm, from scratch. This is about how he did it – with teenage discoveries Bobby Darin, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, and more.

By 1960, at the ripe old age of 25, Kirshner had built the most powerful publishing house in the business, leading Time magazine to call him “the Man with the Golden Ear.” In five short years he coaxed and guided his teenage prodigies to write more than 200 hits. And they weren’t just hits, as it turned out, but standards – including “On Broadway,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof,” “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” “I Love How You Love Me,” “Who Put the Bomp,” and “The Locomotion” – songs that have become the soundtrack of a generation. “We weren’t trying to write standards,” said one songwriter. “We were just trying to please Donnie.”