|Archie and the gang.|
The program director was always threatening to fire me. One day he surprised me and did.
Then a week later he hired me back. At a lower salary.
I had a family. What was I to do?
I think it was gray metal or some such thing. The mail box. My air name, “Rusty”, was scrawled over a stick-on tab that was backed up with a half-dozen or so other tabs containing the pseudo names of other announcers who had come and gone.
Guys like; Don Best. Pete Hammer. “Gentleman Jim” Donovan. (I gave him that nickname. He wasn’t, by the way.
Remember the words to “WKRP in Cincinnati”? “ Town to town up and down the dial?” Well, that was my life story up to that point.
Anyway, I sauntered into the md (music directors) office. Which he shared with the copywriters, (something I also did on the side for ten bucks a commercial. Fifteen if I produced them.
“Rusty, for Ch***t sakes will you stop playing that ‘jazz’ s**t and play the clock.”! He was nothing if not to the point. “Gary’s getting on my a** again.” Paul looked perturbed.
“Sure.” I said. Not meaning it.
“Good” he replied. Also not meaning it.
But this story isn’t about dj’s and their unbelievable self-absorption. It was about a guy who passed away a few days ago. January 17, 2011.
His name was Don Kirshner And the first time I really looked at what he had done was that Monday morning so long ago.
|Don Kirshner with Carol King and Jerry Goffin|
Later in my radio career I realized this was a defining moment that led to my decision to find some other occupation..
“Sugar Sugar” by The Archies was one in a long stream of hits by one of the most prolific record producer and music publisher the world has ever seen. When he passed away earlier this week, he left a legacy of incredible music and musical performers in his wake.
Think Bobby Darin and “Splish Splash”. Little Eva and “Do the Locomotion” or “Cherry Cherry” with Neil Diamond (I just noticed a plethora of single words doubled in some of these titles!) He pulled together some of the best pop music composers ever assembled.
Most came from “The Brill Building” crowd that poured out #1 hits like candy from a Pez ® dispenser. Carol King, Cynthia Weil, Neil Sedaka and many others whowere solid writers and performers in their own right.
He gave us “The Monkeys” who took the last train to Clarksville for over half a dozen years on records and tv.
He produced one hit wonders like”Tracy” by the Cuff Links, a group with the same lead singer who’s voice was in “The Archie’s”, Ron Dante. By the way, even when Betty or Veronica took the lead, it was Dante. Singing in falsetto. And doing all the layered harmonic overdubs.
And who could forget Kirshners deadpanned introductions of rock performers in “Don Kirshners Rock Concerts” back in the late seventies and early eighties until MTV ® came along? Even when his kids took over the master of ceremonys position, it was done in that same flat-voiced mono-tone.
So here's to you Don. You gave us a lot of good stuff. Even the "Archies", in retrospect , gave us something to tap our feet about.
(C) 2011 by George Locke