Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert
Just about every musical act from the 70s wanted to make an appearance on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and most of them succeeded. From 1973-1981, viewers stayed up late on Saturday nights in droves to tune in and watch some of the biggest names in rock and roll perform their music live on television.
Don Kirshner originally worked on an ABC series called In Concert, which would be the precursor to Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. It was taped each week at Hempstead’s Hofstra University and featured such name acts as The Allman Brothers, Steve Miller and Alice Cooper.
When that show ended its run in 1973, Kirshner decided to try his own hand at hosting, despite a rather droll speaking style (later spoofed brilliantly by Paul Shaeffer on SNL), and the result was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, a 90-minute show in a time slot that would later be dominated by NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
The list of guests over the years read like a who’s who of rock and roll. The Rolling Stones appeared on the debut episode, and in the shows that followed, the likes of KISS, The Eagles, Rush, Kansas, The Ramones, Billy Joel, Blue Oyster Cult, Steely Dan, Harry Chapin, The Police, Jim Croce, Cheap Trick and David Bowie took their turns on the series.
None of the acts ever lip-synced on the show, and some gave truly memorable performances of their classic material.
The music industry thrived in the 70s, and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert was one of the first to showcase their top artists in a live format on late-night television. The show will be forever remembered by legions of 70s rock fans who stayed up each weekend to catch some of the greatest musical acts of the time.
If you were one of these late-night viewers, I hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories of the show in our comments section.