RIP Gary Kurfirst

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Stop Making Sense

Music-business legend Gary Kurfirst passed away from undisclosed causes while on vacation in Nassau, the Bahamas, January 13. A venue owner, talent manager, film producer and label founder, Kurfirst opened New York City's Village Theater, later known as the Fillmore East, in 1967. That same year, he began managing hard-rock band Mountain ("Mississippi Queen"), and ran a handful of talent agencies over the years whose clients included Toots & the Maytals, Peter Tosh, Talking Heads, Ramones, B-52's, Eurythmics, Big Audio Dynamite, Deborah Harry, the Waterboys, Jane's Addiction, Deee-Lite and Live.

Kurfurst produced three feature films: 1984 Talking Heads concert doc Stop Making Sense, 1986 Texas-set True Stories and 1987's Siesta. In 1990, he started the label Radioactive Records under the MCA umbrella, which a few years later launched Live to multiplatinum success. In recent years, he ran Kurfirst-Blackwell Entertainment, a talent agency he started with longtime friend Chris Blackwell (the founder of Island Records), and artist-friendly label Rx Records.

Rocks Off never met Kurfirst, but his dear friend and mentor Margaret Moser, senior writer for the Austin Chronicle, first met him at a 1979 Talking Heads/B-52's show at the Armadillo World Headquarters, and did some work for him while he was scouting Dallas locations for True Stories. "Reading about his death was like a heart punch," she wrote on the Chronicle's Earache! blog this morning. "I am deeply saddened by his passing, for his kindness and attention when I really didn't matter made him matter to me."

"Although his own bands were the hippest of the hip, he was always asking us who was good in Texas," Moser emailed Rocks Off this morning. "Without question, we directed him to the Judy's, then managed by one of the Texas Blondes, E.A. Srere. That's how the Judy's ended up opening for Talking Heads and B-52s."

More Kurfirst testimonials are here.

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