Don Kirschner, the rock music publisher and producer who became known as “The Man With the Golden Ear” for his knack as identifying and managing successful singing groups, died Jan. 17 of heart failure in Boca Raton. He was 76.
Mr. Kirshner helped start the careers of such artists as Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond and Carole King. As co-owner of the New York-based Aldon Music publishing company he also managed Neil Sedaka and Barry Mann. He is best known for managing pop groups like The Monkees and The Archies.
In the 1970s he produced and hosted Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, a syndicated weekly program that is considered the predecessor of MTV.
According to a 1966 Time magazine profile, he had an 11-channel radio-telephone in his chauffeured limousine. “If I drive,” he told an interviewer, “I’d probably daydream and go through three red lights.”
A Jewish native of the Bronx, he entered the entertainment business in the 1950s by serving as Connie Francis’ manager.
In his retirement years Mr. Kirshner worked with a pair of start-up companies to discover new talent via the Internet.