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R.I.P. Don Kirshner

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Don Kirshner, the man responsible for the music behind the Monkees, has died. The Monkees represented everything that was most crass and reprehensible about the pop music scene of the time, and Kirshner, the impresario behind the Brill Building music machine, was the perfect man to exploit all that crassness and reprehensibility for maximum profit. But just as the Hollywood studio system couldn’t avoid creating some great movies, Don Kirshner couldn’t avoid helping create some great pop music.

(After the Monkees rebelled against Kirschner’s dictatorial ways, he went on to create the Archies, who, being cartoon characters,were more willing to indulge his artistic whims).

Those of us of a certain age remember Kirshner best for the Midnight Special, his eponymous Rock Concert, which would, in those pre-American Idol days, occasionally expose a bemused network TV audience to something like a seven-minute four-song full frontal assault from the Ramones:

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  • rkd

    Just to be pedantic, Kirschner hosted Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert – Midnight Special was hosted by Wolfman Jack if memory serves.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Adn SCTV of course was there…with Mel Slirrup’s Rock Pile

  • Bill Murray

    I guess I have one more chance to do my Don Kirschner impression that I perfected in 1979.

    • tim

      you should do it, we know it would be a testimonial and thought rendering

    • Jim Isabella

      Paul Shafer’s impression was great of Don. Frankly guys like Don were creative and unique. We could sure use a guy like that to run places like NBC that lack bright and imaginative thinking.

  • Paul Shaffer’s impression on SNL was the best: http://xrl.us/bie9da.

    • Gus

      That was what immediately leapt to mind. I actually think of this when someone mentions Kirschner

  • Bighank53

    Christ, the Ramones look like they’re barely old enough to shave. I’m old.

    • c u n d gulag

      I first saw them in ’75 or ’76 with a close friend when they opened for Blue Oyster Cult in upstate NY.
      Talk about culture shock. I loved The Ramones immediately.
      Say, didn’t Jimmy Hendrix open for the Monkee’s tour for a short while? That must have been some kind of culture shock, too.

  • And it’s easier to look up Don Kirshner on the wiki if you don’t spell his name wrong… there is no “c” in his name.

  • rburns9519

    The Monkeys just show that pop music has always been influenced, controlled or created in the studios, by studio musicians. Though they represented much that’s wrong in music they did have good songwriters writing some good songs.

  • Woodrowfan

    what was the show that came on after the original SNL? Was that “Rock Concert”?

  • it’s not like the monkees were no-talent hacks…one of their big issues with kirshner was that they wanted to play their own instruments on their tracks. nesbitt went on to write plenty of songs, including linda ronstadt’s hit ‘different drum.’ and its not like the monkees were the first producer-created group ever in music

  • I thought Don Kirshner was a greart composer for the group the Monkees. I give him two thumbs up. Lisa Weiner

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