Under Analysis- Don Kirshner, Rock Impresario

  Don Kirshner, known as the “man with the golden ear”, died recently in Boca Raton, Florida of apparent heart failure.   During his lifetime, he was not a stranger to the Courts.
All of Kirshner’s scrapes and disputes cannot easily be chronicled.  However, even those somewhat readily available paint a picture of a man in constant controversy.
In 1969, Kirshner, his company Kirshner Entertainment Corporation, and others, were sued by former co-investors on the grounds that they had been tricked into selling out their interest in the company too cheaply because they were not told about an impending deal to buy the rights to the music of Al Lerner.
  In 1977, Kirshner took his publically traded company, Kirshner Entertainment, private.  In conjunction with that move, certain dissatisfied minority shareholders filed a class action suit asserting fraud, while others filed federal claims for securities laws violations.  Those claims included an allegation that Kirshner did not disclose the sale of the rights to Al Lerner’s music, the impact thereof, or that the sale had been made for less than fair market value.
  In 1994,  Jack Keller alleged in a lawsuit against Music giant EMI,  that Kirshner had mislead him into signing an addendum to an agreement with Kirshner’s company Aldon Music, prior to its acquisition by EMI.
  In 2000, Kirshner was sued by Bob Van Ronkel for alleged fraud and violation of a noncircumvention agreement after he purportedly entered into a series of deals with a company to which Van Ronkel had introduced him, without honoring his agreement to compensate Van Ronkel.
  By 2002 Kirshner’s economic situation was in shambles and creditors put him into involuntarily into bankruptcy in New Jersey.  The case was moved to Florida due to Kirshner’s recent relocation to the sunshine state, at which point Kirshner attempted to convert the case to reorganization under Chapter 11.  When reorganization efforts failed, however, the case was returned to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a trustee appointed.   Efforts of the trustee to make heads or tails of Kirshner’s spending proved  so frustrating, that the trustee ultimately asked the Court to deny Kirshner a discharge in bankruptcy – a request GRANTED by the Court due to Kirshner’s wholesale failure to keep records of his finances.  
  As recently as 2008, Kirshner was sued by would-be investors for allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a national chain of diners which would bear his name, only to never even produced a business plan. 
  Given the myriad of accusations and court involvement,  the man with the golden ear could have become known as just another quick talking slickster.  Instead however, his legacy remains intact, demonstrating that his most memorable marketing accomplishment may have been his ability to protect his reputation.
  Today  Kirshner  is remembered  by most as the man behind ABC’s “In Concert” and later “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” - television programs which showcased musical groups on network television, long before the advent of MTV or other cable networks.    Those shows were not the only marks he left on the music and television worlds.   In college Krishner co-wrote songs with Bobby Darin. Later, his publishing company, Aldon Music, featured songwriters such as Carole King and Neil Sedaka and he brought the Rolling Stones and Led Zeplin to American television and supervised the music of the television-created rock groups the “Monkees” and the animated “Archies.”  It was his idea to take a song originally penned for the Monkees, entitled “Sugar Sugar” and repackage it for the animated cartoon group Archies – and smiled as the sweet melody became a number one hit.     Kirshner Records, his company,  was also responsible for hit songs by “Kansas”, including “Carry on My Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind.”   RIP, Mr Kirshner.
  So, reputation intact,  Don Kirshner passed on, leaving a music legacy behind.   The world of music is better off from having known him.

  ©2011  under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. Yes, he is aware that AMC didn’t manufacture the Pacer until 1975. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at comments@levisongroup.com.

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