Howard Kaufman, a frequent collaborator of Irving Azoff’s and an influential artist manager whose clients have included some of the biggest names in rock n’ roll, has died, Billboard has confirmed. He was 79. The cause of death is as yet unknown.
In 1974, Kaufman teamed with Azoff to form Front Line Management, which notably guided the careers of the Eagles, Steely Dan, and Buffett, among others. The company disbanded in the early 1980s, around the time the Eagles began their long hiatus, but was resurrected by the pair in early 2005. The revamped Front Line experienced rapid growth and in 2008 was acquired by Ticketmaster, which named Azoff CEO.
“Howard was a giant among men. He never sought the spotlight, but was the best in the business,” Azoff said in a statement. “We worked together for more than 45 years. He was a great influence on me and taught me a lot. Despite his major health issues, he always wanted to work till the end and I’m glad he got his wish. It’s a tragic loss for our industry. He will be missed by me as well as scores of others he touched.”
Kaufman had a profound impact on many in the music business, including a couple of music agents who might not have started one of the most storied music agencies without him. “Years later I reminded Howard that [Fred Bohlander and I] would not have left Los Angeles, or started Monterey Peninsula Artists if not for him,” Dan Weiner tells Billboard. “He would always say, ‘Why are you giving them the commission when you guys are doing all of the work?'” Kaufman’s prodding led the duo to leave ICM, which was the result of a merger between IFA and CMA, and open their own agency (which they sold to Paradigm in 2004).
Another music business veteran, Bob Sherwood, who was a senior marketing executive and GM at Columbia in the 1980s when he encountered Kaufman. “Given our positions he wanted/demanded more for his artists than what we might spend in support of any of our other artists,” he said, “which was typical of the best artist managers. He had my respect and I’ll be lighting a couple of candles and offering some prayers in St. Mary’s tomorrow morning.”