Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don Kirshner

Don Kirshner with Carole King and Gerry Goffin

On January 17 a key person in pop music history died. Don Kirshner, a rock promoter and music publisher, presided at the crossroads where the Brill Building met the Beatles. He helped develop the songwriting careers of Neil Diamond, Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He provided music for The Monkees--and The Archies! Later, on his show "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert", he helped bring acts like Billy Joel and the Police to a broader audience.

As his Guardian obituary makes clear, Kirshner was very cagey when in 1963 he sold his company's music catalog to Screen Gems, a subsidiary of Columbia.

In 1963 Kirshner and Nevins sold their Aldon songs catalogue to Screen Gems, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, for $2m, and Kirshner was also installed as Screen Gems' musical director. The timing was shrewd, since the era of songwriters creating tunes for singers was under threat from the arrival of artists who wrote their own material, notably Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

It is a crying shame that this man is not in the Rock and Roll Museum! May this oversight be corrected ASAP!

Oh, and by the way: a happy birthday to Neil Diamond, who recently turned 70!

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