Madonna, Talking Heads Pay Tribute to Sire Records Chief Who Signed Them

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Madonna and Seymour Stein (Uncredited photo via her Instagram account)

The day after legendary music executive Seymour Stein died at age 80 on April 2, 2023, two of the most prominent artists that he signed to Sire Records heaped praise on him. During his decades-long tenure with the label that he co-founded in 1966, the company was a goldmine for cutting-edge music, from popular trailblazers like Pretenders, the Ramones, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, the Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen, Erasure, The Cult, and dozens more. Two of Stein’s biggest signings were Madonna and Talking Heads. Both acts posted tributes to him on April 3.

In a rare collective post, Talking Heads wrote on their Facebook page: “[We] are saddened to learn that Seymour Stein has died. He was our champion. He fought bravely for us and he remained loyal to us until the end. Some people can spot a diamond in the rough and Seymour was one of them. He offered us a record deal after seeing us only one time at CBGB, before even we felt we were ready. He waited impatiently for eighteen months until we finally said yes to his offer. Seymour’s life was one of great success and also great tragedy, but through it all he remained crazy about music. To hear him sing one of our own songs to us while barreling down Broadway in a Checker cab was one of our life’s great delights. We say this with respect to his beautiful daughter Mandy and to all of the Sire Records family. He was a mensch that we and the music business will never forget.”

The tribute was signed from “Chris, Tina, David and Jerry.”

In a post on her Instagram account, Madonna wrote, “Seymour Stein Has Left Us! I need to catch my breath. He was one of the most influential men in my Life!! He changed and shaped my world. I must explain.

“I stalked a DJ named Mark Kamin for a year at a club called Danceteria! In the Early 80’s. He finally agreed to play my demo of a song called ‘Everybody’ on a Saturday night. The Club was packed. An A&R man from SIRE records was there, Michael Rosenblatt.

“He heard the music and asked me if he could bring me to meet his boss, Seymour Stein. I Couldn’t get the words ‘Hell Yes!’ out of my mouth fast enough!

“Unfortunately Seymour was in the hospital for a heart ailment! I didn’t care. Lets Goooooo! When I met him he was laying in a hospital bed wearing his boxer shorts and a wife beater!

“He had a cannula up his nose and a saline drip in his arm! He was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. I was carrying my giant boombox ready to play my cassette for him immediately! He smiled and laughed when he saw me and asked me if I was related to the Virgin Mary!! Hahahhahahaa. I knew we would hit it off. I played him the song a few times. He signed me to his record label that day!!

“This moment changed the course of my life forever and was the beginning of my journey as a musical artist. Not only did Seymour hear me but he saw me and my potential! For this I will be eternally grateful!

“I am weeping as I write this down. Words cannot describe how I felt at this moment after years of grinding and being broke and getting every door slammed in my face.

Anyone who knew Seymour knew about his passion for music and his impeccable taste. He had an ear like no other! He was Intense—wickedly funny, a little bit crazy and deeply intuitive.

Dearest Seymour you will never be forgotten!! Thank You! Thank you Thank you! 🙏🏼 💙. . Shine on!!!”

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