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Lighters Held High: Music Biz Legend Don Kirshner Dies

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Don Kirshner, a commanding musical authority, groundbreaking rock n' roll publisher and visionary television producer died yesterday of heart failure in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 76 years old. The multi-industry mogul launched songwriting talent in the 1960s, made the Monkees the Monkees, and gave a non lip-synced, live-music stage to many pre-legends of the 1970s on his late-night TV series "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert."

Bronx-born Kirshner reportedly "met Robert Cassotto at a candy shop in Washington Heights and the two wrote songs together, including Cassotto's first single, My First Love, which he recorded under the name Bobby Darin, reports NPR.

With publisher Al Nevins, Kirshner co-founded Aldon Music in 1958. Darin's "Splish Splash" went Top 10 that year and Aldon scored top songwriting teams Carole King/Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, and Neil Sedaka/Howard Greenfield, notes NPR. Kirshner launched Dimension Records, sold Aldon to Screen Gems/Columbia and then became president in 1964. There, Kirshner began conceiving of a musical television hybrid. Enter: the Monkees and The Archies.