Kurfirst was heavily involved in the New York music scene, opening the infamous Village Theater in 1967, which later became known as the Fillmore East. He was responsible for the New York debuts of legends such as Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, Jeff Beck, The Yardbirds, and more.
Over the course of four decades, Kurfirst was involved in record sales in excess of 100 million units worldwide and was an important part of the success of major of recording artists, producers, film and video directors, agents, and major recording labels.
In 1968 at the age of 20, he staged the New York Rock Festival at the Singer Bowl in Flushing Meadow Park, at which Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Janis Joplin, and The Who performed. It was around this time he started managing acid-rock band Mountain, remaining their manager until 1975.
In 1975, Kurfirst worked with Chris Blackwell to introduce Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and reggae to America. Over the next two decades he went on to sign the Ramones, Talking Heads, B52s, Eurythmics, and Jane’s Addiction.
Legendary label executive Seymour Stein today paid tribute to Kurfirst saying: “Gary was brilliant in his ability to spot changes in music ahead of most people and had the courage to act on his instincts. Gary was tough, but not cut-throat in business. He could fight hard, but fair and never held grudges. Gary had great style.”
Talking Heads’ Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth released a joint statement, calling Kurfirst the ‘fifth Talking Head’:
“Gary Kurfirst has been our manager since 1977. He never failed to take care of business for us. He protected us. He allowed Talking Heads to be Talking Heads while he took the blows that the music business dealt us. Gary truly was the fifth Talking Head. We were very close friends and we will miss him terribly.”
–By our New York staff.