Photo: Joeyjojo86

Sire Records President, Seymour Stein: Dead At 80

On Sunday (4.02,) Seymour Stein, the legendary music executive behind the careers of such mega-acts as Depeche Mode, the Pretenders, the Ramones, Soft Cell, The Cure, The Smiths, died at the age of 81 following a protracted battle with cancer.

Stein was the co-founder of Sire Records and was the first person to sign Madonna in 1983. And in a statement about her father, Stein’s daughter Mandy said:

“I grew up surrounded by music. I didn’t have the most conventional upbringing, but I wouldn’t change my life and my relationship with my dad for anything, and he was a loving and caring grandfather who took pleasure in every moment with his three granddaughters. He gave me the ultimate soundtrack, as well as his wicked sense of humor. I am beyond grateful for every minute our family spent with him, and that the music he brought to the world impacted so many people’s lives in a positive way.”

Seymour – whose late wife Linda passed away in 2007 – started out in the music industry as a teenager when he submitted reviews to Billboard magazine before transitioning into the recording side of the industry at King Records in his twenties.

In 1966, Stein was approached by producer/songwriter Richard Gottehrer to create Sire Records together, and while their first few years were commercially unsuccessful, the pair later achieved pay dirt in the 1970s when they signed rock band Talking Heads and lead singer/songwriter David Byrne.

In the early 1980s, while recovering from heart surgery, the iconic record exec heard a demo of ‘Everybody’ by a then-unknown Madonna and after signing the nightclub singer to his record label, saw six of her LPs achieve multi-platinum status with more than 10 million records sold.

In the 1990s, other Sire Records signings included former Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson, Canadian country/pop vocalist k.d. lang and although Seymour was not a songwriter, he was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2016 with the Howie Richmond Hitmaker award two years before his retirement.

Following the news of his passing, former Smiths guitarist Marr tweeted, “RIP Seymour Stein. Legendary record man. Signed me to Sire Records in 1984 and bought me my Red 355 from 48th Street to seal the deal. Worked with The Drifters, Rolling Stones & Shangri-Las. Discovered Talking Heads, Ramones & Madonna. Well done Seymour & thank you my friend.”

14-time Oscar Award nominee, songwriter Warren posted a picture of Stein and Tommy Page on Twitter and wrote, “Now they’re together in Heaven Forever. Rest In Power Seymour Stein say hi (to Tommy) Page for me. Thank U for signing him and so many great artists (sic).” 

K.D. Lang tweeted, “Swift rebirth my friend”, and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans wrote, “Sire was one of those labels that was a sign of great taste and quality. He knew good music. We met him in New York, at The Limelight, when The Charlatans played there, we’d been asked to put him on the guest list – his plus one was Madonna.”

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Author: Al Denté

Photo: Joeyjojo86