Bud Prager, a longtime label executive and manager who fostered the rock bands Mountain, Foreigner and Damn Yankees, died Dec. 22 of esophageal cancer at his home in Montauk, N.Y. He was 79.
In the 1960s, the native New Yorker formed independent label Windfall Records with Felix Pappalardi, who produced the three Cream records. The record company grew into Windfall Music Enterprises, which included artist management, publishing, production and recording divisions.
Pappalardi and Prager soon brought together the players for Mountain; the band gained popularity after an appearance at Woodstock in 1969 and the single"Mississippi Queen" from its debut album the following year.
After Mountain disbanded, Prager brought together guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing of Mountain and Cream bassist Jack Bruce to form "supergroup" West, Bruce and Laing in 1972. They lasted two albums.
In 1976, Prager began a 17-year management affiliation with Foreigner. After repeatedly being turned down by all the major labels, Prager secured a deal with Atlantic Records. The "group that couldn't find a label" went on to sell tens of millions of albums. In 1986, Prager helped "resurrect" Bad Company, with former Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe replacing Paul Rodgers.
Damn Yankees, featuring Nugent, Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger, was another successful band in the late 1980s co-managed by Prager. He also co-managed Megadeth from 1995-2001, helping the hard-rock outfit led by original Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine find platinum success.
Between his record label, publishing and management interests, Prager was involved with Whitesnake, the Youngbloods, the Chambers Brothers, Free, Mitch Ryder, Dann Huff, Frank Filipetti, Gary Kurfirst, Mike Renault, Mylon and others.
At his death, Prager was president of ESP Management and on the board of directors of MRD, a Toronto-based royalty recovery service.