Don Kirshner's Rock Concert

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Don Kirshner's Rock Concert
Created byDon Kirshner
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes230[1]
Executive producerDon Kirshner
Running time90 minutes
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 27, 1973 (1973-09-27)[2] –
1981 (1981)

Don Kirshner's Rock Concert is an American television music variety show that ran during the 1970s and early 1980s, created and produced by Don Kirshner and syndicated to television stations, initially through Viacom Enterprises, and later through Syndicast. It premiered on September 27, 1973, with a performance by The Rolling Stones and The Doobie Brothers; its last episode was in 1981.[citation needed]


Dionne Warwick (left), Don Kirshner (center left), Helen Reddy (center right), and Olivia Newton-John (right), Don Kirshner's Rock Concert anniversary party, 1974.

Kirshner had been executive producer and "creative consultant" on ABC's In Concert series which debuted with two shows in November and December 1972, in the 11:30 p.m. time slot usually held by The Dick Cavett Show. The programs, taped at the Hofstra Playhouse at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., featured performances by Alice Cooper; Curtis Mayfield; Seals & Crofts; Bo Diddley; The Allman Brothers Band; Chuck Berry; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Poco; The Steve Miller Band; and Joe Walsh. Their rating more than doubled the average rating of The Dick Cavett Show and even topped NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in some markets and among viewers under the age of 35.

In Concert became a bi-weekly series in January 1973. "Right now, we have more artists than we know what to do with," Kirshner's music director Wally Gold told The Washington Post late in 1972. "We pay them scale to appear, which is way below what they usually get for a concert, but they know that the publicity is well worth it. So everyone wants to be on. We're getting hundreds of calls. At first, we had to beg the artists to appear. Now they're begging us."[3]

In September 1973, Kirshner left In Concert—he received producing credits for three more shows—to launch his own syndicated "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert." The premiere, on September 27, 1973, featured The Rolling Stones, taped in London, in their first appearance on American TV in more than four years.[2]

The program featured many of the popular performers of the day during its run and other notable guests included Rush, The Eagles, KISS, Foghat, The Ramones, Kansas, Van Morrison and The Allman Brothers Band. Kirshner personally commissioned rock designer Jim Evans to create a special logo for the show.

The show was hosted by Kirshner up till the last season. His on-air delivery was described as flat by viewers. Paul Shaffer often lampooned him in a convincing impersonation on Saturday Night Live, which went head-to-head against "Rock Concert" in some cities between 1975 and 1981. In its final season the show was hosted by Kirshner's son and daughter.

As with The Midnight Special, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert was noted for featuring live performances, which was unusual for the period since most television appearances at that time used lip-synching to prerecorded music. Kirshner's show was recorded in stereo utilizing simulcast to broadcast on FM Stereo radio stations and early Cable TV.

The series also occasionally aired vintage footage of older acts such as Bill Haley & His Comets, Dusty Springfield and Ritchie Valens, which due to the age of the recordings were broadcast in mono.

Don Kirshner's Rock Concert library is owned by SOFA Entertainment and Historic films.

Performers who appeared on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The TV series SCTV satirized Don Kirshner's Rock Concert as Lee A. Iacocca's Rock Concert in an episode of the same name; the premiere of season 3. Dave Thomas appeared as Lee Iacocca asking for government help to subsidize the costs of running the show, a satirical take on his asking the government to bail out Chrysler around the same time. The skit also mentions Paul Shaffer's satires of him on Saturday Night Live and also has a performance of the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" but sung as "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round a Dodge Omni" sung by him and Tony Orlando (Tony Rosato). The skit appears on the 'Best of the Early Years' DVD.

In the Blue Öyster Cult song "The Marshall Plan" from their 1980 album Cultösaurus Erectus, Don Kirshner makes a cameo as himself introducing Johnny (the subject of the song) as if Johnny were a guest on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Rock Concert is bought by Historic Films Archived October 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, a 2001 Historic Films Library article
  2. ^ a b O'Connor, John J. " 'In Concert' man gathers Stones for new series", The New York Times, September 27, 1973, p. 78
  3. ^ Zito, Tom. "Televising rock: Rocking Around the Tube", The Washington Post, December 29, 1972, p. B1
  4. ^ personally attended the taping and later saw it aired
  5. ^ "Don Kishner's Rock Concert". Retrieved 2014-09-10.

General sources[edit]

  • McNeil, Alexander M. (1980). Total Television, New York: Penguin Books, Ltd. ISBN 0-14-004911-8.

External links[edit]