(CelebrityAccess) — Dell Furano, a noted innovator in concert merchandising and brand management, died on September 4th after a battle with cancer. He was 71.
A towering figure in the merchandising and retail branding industry, Furano played a central role in the development of the retail brand licensing and concert mech into a multibillion-dollar business.
Over the course of his career, Furano led merchandising and licensing efforts for some of the biggest names in music, including The Beatles, KISS, Madonna, U2, AC/DC, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Wham/George Michael, Shakira, as well as concert merchandise programs for artists and bands such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand, Prince, Aerosmith, Tim McGraw, and The Who, among others.
A native of Nevada City, California, Furano graduated from Stanford University in 1972 with a degree in Political Science and Government. He began his career in merch by licensing Grateful Dead tie-dye apparel and posters which he sold in local record stores and head shops.
His expertise brought him to the attention of another industry legend, Bill Graham, and the two partnered to co-found the merchandising and licensing company Winterland Productions, quickly establishing the venture as the preeminent licensing company in the industry at the time.
In 1985, they sold the company to CBS Records and then reacquired it before selling it again 3 years later to MCA/Universal.
In 1993, Furano became the founding CEO of Sony Signatures, overseeing merchandise licensing and consumer products for the Sony Corporation, including Columbia and Tri-Star Pictures as well as Sony’s music labels.
During his tenure at Sony, Furano oversaw Sony’s successful 1998 World Cup licensing efforts, generating record sales numbers for FIFA World Cup merchandise.
Furano was an early adopter of digital marketing and in 1999, he launched the standalone Signatures Network, Inc., which offered a range of services, including developing an online presence for artists, such as official websites, fan clubs and e-commerce sites.
Live Nation acquired Signature Networks in 2008 and named Furano as CEO of Live Nation Merchandise, a post he held until 2012.
In 2014, Furano and his wife Kym co-founded Epic Rights, a full-service entertainment agency and brand management company based in West Hollywood, CA. The company offers a range of services for celebrities, including e-commerce, VIP ticketing, digital fan communities and global tour merch among others.
Furano was a board member of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) and was the first member of the music industry to be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I have been honored to work for Dell for the better part of thirty years. He was a true visionary – constantly re-inventing our business for changing times while embracing evolving technologies. Through all the changes, he never lost sight of the artist, their representatives, the fans, our partners and our employees. He had a profound and positive impact on so many lives and careers – he was a very special guy, a true giant. I, together with the whole Epic family, am going to miss him dearly. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Kym and the entire Furano family,” said Phil Cussen, President & Chief Operating Officer, Epic Rights.