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(Kirshner, left, with Carole King and Gerry Goffin)
Don Kirshner, the influential music publisher and record producer who earned the nickname “the man with the golden ear,” died January 17 of heart failure. He was 76 years old.
In the late ’50s, Kirshner launched New York publishing company Aldon Music with co-owner Al Nevin. The pair signed many of the Brill Building’s chief songwriters, including Carole King, Barry Mann, and Neil Sedaka. Later, he partnered with ATV, and controlled the rights to several key Beatles tracks in North America.
Kirshner branched into promoting and producing, and brought international attention to artists like Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Tony Orlando, and Kansas, a band he discovered.
He brought the hit singles “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m A Believer” to the Monkees, and served as the host of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, a popular television show that ran from 1973 to 1981 and featured guests like The Rolling Stones and David Bowie.
In 2007, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “He was a seminal figure in the modern music business,” said SHOF Chairman Hal David in 2007, “and his songwriting stable has been responsible for scores of classic hit songs over the years, and up to the present day.”