They just don’t make music executives like they used to. The music executives from the “old days” had an ear for music and were often songwriters themselves. They also had the knack of recognizing talent, and many a music career owes it to the keen ears and eyes of dedicated music executives. Don Kirshner was one of the greatest music producers of the old guard, an exclusive group of people that is dwindling every year. He died in January 2011, leaving behind a family, a legacy of great music and a life’s worth of tremendously successful careers. He was recognized all over the world as a man who knew his music inside out.
One of my favorite Don Kirshner artists is Neil Diamond, a man who owes his stardom to Kirshner’s ardent promotion. Neil Diamond went on to sell 115 million records worldwide, a feat exceeded only by the likes of Barbra Streisand and Elton John. Kirshner had a special place in his heart for men like Diamond, who were songwriters themselves. In fact, Don Kirshner respected anyone who knew how to mold a song. Kirshner himself had incredible songwriting skill and was formally inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
Kirshner also had an active family life. Unlike most in the industry, he stayed faithfully by his wife for fifty years, raising two children and being as much of a hero in the house as he was in the industry. In an industry tossed and turned by controversy, divorce and mistrust, Kirshner rose above his peers as a standard of excellence. In fact, I am more touched by his achievements at home than I am by his achievements in the industry. His death depressed me a little because I know that his generation is almost gone and there are precious few in the music industry today that can fill his shoes. My only consolation is that his music will live on forever.