History
of the
Knitting Factory

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.

« back to biography

Weined

Around this time in New York, I sent a letter to George Wein at the JVC Festival. I figured as long as we were going to Holland, we could at least go uptown. We met in his office and after a hard sales pitch, he accepted my proposal that we have a series of concerts at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall called “The Knitting Factory Goes Uptown.” Working with the biggest budget we’d ever had, I put together five nights of doublebills. We also scheduled two weeks of powerful bills at the club for our second summer festival. I remember going to the fancy JVC press conference with hundreds of people in attendance and being introduced by George Wein at the mic, who said, “There is this great little club downtown called the Knitting Factory who present the new and upcoming jazz artists. I thought it was a good idea to call Michael Dorf, the owner, and incorporate this important music into our festival.” I was welcomed to the world of big-business jazz.

All of the Knitting Factory’s share of the money from the uptown shows went into the artist fees at the club and one month’s rent. While the festival seemed to generate a lot of press coverage, not many of the shows at Alice Tully Hall drew big crowds. The competition from Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie playing next door at Avery Fischer Hall at the same time was too much even for John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, Cassandra Wilson, Charlie Haden, and the others booked as part of “The Knitting Factory Goes Uptown.” George Wein came to see one of the shows. I stood next to him looking for a reaction. I never really saw one. Nonetheless, it was a real gas and well worth the subway rides uptown.