Evarard S. “Bud” Prager died at his home in Montauk on December 22 after a battle with esophageal cancer. The president of ESP Management Inc., he was 79.
Born in New York City to Gerald and Lucy Prager on January 16, 1929, he graduated from Stuyvesant High School and received a prestigious music award. He went on to attend Hartwick College and New York University. On his return from active duty with the U.S. Army in Korea, he began attending law school at night while working full time, earning his bachelor of laws degree from New York Law School.
He long and distinguished career in the music business continued into his final days. He started in music publishing, working for the Society of European Songwriters, Artists and Composers—one of three performing-rights organizations in the U.S.—and rising to the position of general manager. He moved to Warner Brothers Music, where he was an independent producer, had an independent publishing affiliate and set up the original gospel music division. He was also one of the founding members of the Country Music Association.
In the 1960s, he formed his own company, Windfall Music Enterprises, with musician/producer Felix Pappalardi. Mr. Pappalardi produced many Cream albums including “Disraeli Gears,” “Wheels of Fire” (the first double album ever certified platinum) and “Goodbye.” Together, Mr. Prager and Mr. Pappalardi helped form and manage the band Mountain, who went on to sell millions of albums and perform at Woodstock.
In 1976, now with his company, ESP Management Inc., Mr. Prager helped form Foreigner with Mick Jones and began a 17-year management affiliation. After initially being turned down by all the major record labels, he persevered and on the second go-round Jerry Greenberg signed Foreigner to Atlantic Records. The “group that couldn’t find a label” went on to sell in excess of 50 million albums and still tours to this day.
In addition, Mr. Prager was involved with the careers of West, Bruce & Laing, Whitesnake, Bad Company, Damn Yankees, Dann Huff, Frank Filipetti, Gary Kurfirst, The Youngbloods, The Chambers Brothers, Free, Mitch Ryder and many others. He co-managed Megadeth with Mike Renault from 1995 to 2001. During this time, he also co-wrote a number of songs with Dave Mustaine, and helped Megadeth achieve their first major commercial radio success.
At the time of his death, he was monitoring a number of artists and consulting with other music related businesses, including advising and serving on the board of directors of MRD, a Toronto-based royalty recovery service.
In addition to his career, he was an avid golfer, bridge player and sports fan.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Gloria Mahaney Prager of Montauk; a son, Evan S. Prager and his wife DJ of California; a brother, Harold Prager of Arkansas; and two grandsons, Ethan and Liam.
A memorial service planned for early 2009 will be announced in a future edition of The Press. For information, e-mail email@example.com.