RIP, Don Kirshner

Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert changed my life.

I was watching it long before I probably should have. I would strike these deals with our babysitters on Saturdays, if they let me stay up to watch Don Kirshner, I would make sure the rest of the kids (and there were four of us) would behave and go to bed with no problem. This worked on all of our sitters except Ann from next door, who – because she LIVED NEXT DOOR – felt a need to be more accountable than the other random girls who showed up at our house to watch us while my parents went out.

I’d like to figure out how I even knew about this television show. I was pop music crazy at a young age, I was riding my bike to the record store to get the printouts of each week’s Top 40, I was calculating allowance to figure out what I could afford to buy (at 79 cents per 45), I was already a huge fan of both American Bandstand and Soul Train, I regularly requested songs on the local radio station, I would turn the dial slowly to get WLS in from Chicago and try to find stations on the other side of the state, in Detroit. All of that stuff makes sense, but my need to watch Alice Cooper or Roxy Music on Rock Concert at the age of 7 or 8? Where the hell did that come from? Because that is when I was doing it. We lived in Michigan from 69-74 and I was definitely hooked on Rock Concert the last two years, at least.

There’s a Chrissie Hynde quote that knowing that there were guys like Iggy Pop and Brian Jones out there made it hard for her to take anything or anyone local seriously, and that was how I felt about Rock Concert. I was too young to go to concerts (although I tried SO HARD to get my mom to take me to see the Jackson Five), I was too young to afford proper record albums, but I had this magic thing on Saturday nights and I would do anything to make sure I could watch it. If you watch it now – and there are some on youtube – you will think: lame. But in the early 70s to a girl trapped in a tiny town (my mother reminds me to this day that she got us out of there before it had done too much damage) that show was everything that rock and roll was supposed to represent, which was dark and smoky and dangerous and free.

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