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Rock Promoter Don Kirshner Dies at Age 76

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Don Kirshner helped boost the career of bands including The Police. (AP)

Rock promoter Don Kirshner, whom Time magazine once dubbed the "Man With the Golden Ear," died Monday in a Florida hospital, a close friend and business associate said. He was 76.

Promoter Jack Wishna told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Kirshner was in a hospital in Boca Raton being treated for an infection.

"Donny Kirshner would take a kid off the street, bring him up to his office in the Brill Building and turn him into Neil Diamond, Carol King, James Taylor, on and on," Wishna said. "I haven't spoken to anyone in the music business that Donny hasn't either discovered, promoted, or touched in some way.

"I've never seen anybody like this in my life," he said.

Kirshner managed The Monkees in the 1960s and also created the animated series The Archies.

He was behind "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" in 1972, and gave national exposure to musicians including Billy Joel and The Police. The show also boosted careers of comics including Billy Crystal, Arsenio Hall and David Letterman.

The show also featured artists Kirshner helped launch including Prince, The Eagles, Lionel Richie and Ozzy Osborne.

Wishna said Kirshner was a mentor who knew the art of discovering talent and cared about the artists he worked with.

"He was a father to these people even though some of them were three or four years younger than him," Wishna said.

Wishna said Kirshner was a pioneer who developed a system for singer-songrwriters to share in the profits of selling music.

He also ran three labels, Dimension Records, Colgems Records and Kirshner Records.

Before he died, Kirshner was chief creative officer of Rockrena, a company launching this year to find and promote talent online.

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