Dell Furano (Photo: Epic Rights)
DELL FURANO, a pioneer in rock merchandising as the founder of EPIC RIGHTS, an entertainment agency and brand management company, has passed away at the age of 69. The cause of his death was not revealed, but reportedly he had been sick for awhile.
FURANO started in the merchandising and licensing business with BILL GRAHAM’s WINTERLAND PRODUCTIONS, going on to work with everyone from JOHN LENNON, THE ROLLING STONES and AC/DC to MADONNA, BILLY JOEL, MICHAEL JACKSON, LED ZEPPELIN, COLDPLAY, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, JAY-Z, MAROON 5 and AEROSMITH.
MOTLEY CRUE ALLEN KOVAC, who is using EPIC RIGHTS for the merchandising on the band’s upcoming tour with DEF LEPPARD, POISON and JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS said, “DELL was a trailblazer in the merchandising world. Always smiling as if he had a special gift, something new he was going to bring that you didn’t know you needed.”
Born in NEVADA CITY, CA, near LAKE TAHOE, Furano graduated from STANFORD in 1972 with a degree in political science and government He took a year off to join his brother DAVE, a well-known local promoter, to learn the concert business from GRAHAM before a plan to attend law school. Working part-time at SAN FRANCISCO’s legendary WINTERLAND while still at college, Legend has it FURANO was enlisted to do merchandising when the wife of GRATEFUL DEAD drummer BILL KREUTZMANN asked GRAHAM whom she should talk to about T-shirts and he replied, “Go talk to DELL.”
Another version had DELL stenciling ROLLING STONES on a collection of psychedelic tie-dyed T-shirts and selling hundreds of them outside the venue during the band’s famed concerts there in 1972. That was the start of WINTERLAND PRODUCTIONS, started by the brothers DELL and DAVE with GRAHAM, which soon became the leading merchandising and licensing company in the earliest days of the modern concert business.
“In the ’70s, it was not cool selling merchandise, so we had to be careful,” FURANO told BILLBOARD. “Groups would say, ‘OK, you can sell, but don’t embarrass us. Stand in a corner.’”
GRAHAM and the FURANOS eventually sold WINTERLAND PRODUCTIONS to CBS RECORDS in 1985, which flipped it to MCA/UNIVERSAL three years later.
In 1993, FURANO became the CEO of SONY SIGNATURES, the entertainment merchandise licensing and consumer products division of SONY CORP, directing the merchandise licensing programs for COLUMBIA and TRI-STAR PICTURES, where he was instrumental in the company’s successful merchandise program for the 1998 WORLD CUP in FRANCE, with record sales for FIFA merchandise.
He started SIGNATURE NETWORK, INC. in 1999, expanding into musicans’ online presence, including the management of official websites, social media pages, VIP ticketing/fan club programs, and e-commerce sites. LIVE NATION acquired SIGNATURE NETWORKS in 2008, with FURANO serving as CEO of LIVE NATION MERCHANDISE through 2012.
In 2014, FURANO and his wife KYM founded EPIC RIGHTS, a full-service entertainment agency and brand management company based in WEST HOLLYWOOD, which also offers services in celebrity, retail fashion and lifestyle branding, ecommerce sales, VIP ticketing, digital fan communities, and global tour merchandising. In FEBRUARY, 2019, UMG’s BRAVADO, their consumer, lifestyle and brand management division, acquired EPIC RIGHTS’ boutique merchandise and branding company, which includes licensing deals with MADONNA’s skincare line, CELINE DION’s handbag collection, an apparel deal featuring the lyrics of LENNON & McCARTNEY, KISS wafflemakers, a CBGB DR.MARTEN’s shoe tie-in and FUNK figures of DEF LEPPARDD and DURAN DURAN.
Longtime client OZZY OSBOURNE tweeted, “So sad to hear of the passing of DELL FURANO. He was a legend in the merchandising business, a great friend. and above all, a true gentleman. Much love and respect to his wife and family.”
Added CAA Head Of Music ROB LIGHT on INSTAGRAM, “DELL FURANO was the true king of rock and roll merch. He took an embryonic business and made it part of the infrastructure of live music. He always found a way to get a deal done. And always made the artist money. All while being a decent, good person, who always had a smile and lived live music. RIP.”
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