Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, was the Chairman and CEO from 1987-2002.
He no longer has any operational or ownership ties to the organization.
By this point it was clear that we’d be doing a lot of non-subway travel in the future, too. The worldwide press attention had started. The Japanese press and music industry were watching us particularly closely. After a couple of articles on the club appeared in Japanese jazz magazines and a special on us appeared on NHK (Japan’s biggest TV station), we noticed more tourists coming into the club from Japan. One night while I was taking tickets at the door, a bus pulled up in front of the club and fifty Japanese
tourists walked in to see the latest in “jazz.” I tried to explain to the leader that we had a hard-core rockband playing, but they all paid and went in anyway. Five minutes later, half of them came out covering their ears. The other half came out after the show exclaiming “Omoshiloi-des”, which after a few year’s of Japanese lessons I’ve learned to mean “It was very interesting.” Jazz is more popular in Japan than in the U.S.; we knew we would be flying there sometime soon.
However, it was the flights to Europe that earned us the most frequent-flier mileage. Given our success in Holland and the fact that jazz and new-music artists in general do better in Europe, a full European tour seemed in order. We had started to meet a few other promoters in Germany and thought a comprehensive tour of the major cities would help promote our upcoming CD releases in Europe. But wait…. A&M Records, distributed by Polygram in Europe, wasn’t planning-and couldn’t be persuaded-to release our stuff there. Who would be interested in this? they thought. Three months before the tour, feeling very cornered and in need of our CDs to help legitimize what we were trying to do, we bought back the European rights from A&M in order to license the CDs to a much more interested European label, Enemy Records. We had to give back almost half the money they had originally advanced us, but we finally got the CDs into Europe. To this day, though, we haven’t been able to make back the money we lost paying A&M for the European rights – but we had opened up a lot of doors, anyway.
I booked a tour of 24 European cities, using all the contacts I had made or borrowed from our friends-the family of artists from the club who booked their own tours of Europe and had accumulated a network of names over the years. The tour brought six bands-Sonny Sharrock, The Jazz Passengers, Curlew, Myra Melford Trio, Miracle Room, and Bosho – to play two-night festivals of three bands a night. Two tour buses crisscrossed and leapfrogged each other throughout Europe, with concerts taking place in two different cities each night.