Don Kirshner, the Bronx music publisher, producer and television host who saw promise in musicians who spanned decades and genres, passed away on Monday of heart failure at the age of 76 in Boca Raton, Florida. Kirshner was involved with some of the most irresistibly humable pop tunes to grace the airwaves, such as "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies. He also helped along some of New York's most celebrated singers and songwriters, including Manhattan's Carole King and Bobby Darin from the Bronx.
Kirshner was born in the Bronx and came into success in the 1950's as the co-owner of Aldon music, along with Al Nevins. As a company, Aldon capitalized on the frenetic and talented songwriters in 49th Street's "Brill Building," where hits like "The Loco-Motion" and "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" came into being, to fulfill their destiny of being whistled or played ad infinitum.
Starting in 1972, Kirshner introduced acts from Black Sabbath to the Allman Brothers Band for nearly a decade on the ABC show "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert." Though the program was famously spoofed on "Saturday Night Live," it is pinpointed by rock critics and connoisseurs as a true precedent to MTV (when it played music, not Snooki).
Though Kirshner is known for having a "golden ear" for hits, perhaps it is better said that he had an open one. His involvement with music produced hits and gave the spotlight to rockstars whose talents produced the kind of music that still makes road trips tolerable and invites nostalgia to weddings and high school dances.
Kirshner is survived by his wife, Sheila; his children Ricky and Daryn; and five grandchildren.