Seymour Stein
David Byrne, Seymour Stein, and Madonna | Photo by KMazur/WireImage

Sire Records Founder Seymour Stein Dead at 80

Renowned record executive and founder of Sire Records Seymour Stein has died at age 80. Stein passed away on Sunday morning in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer, his daughter Mandy confirmed to Variety.

Stein founded Sire Records with Richard Gottehrer in 1966 when he was in his mid-20s, and in the early years the label focused on introducing British rock bands to the American market. In the ’70s, Stein moved into the punk and New Wave world, signing acts like The Ramones, Talking Heads, and The Pretenders.

Madonna: ‘Material Girl’

His most famous signing was Madonna, who he met as a young artist while in hospital in the early 1980s. As ABC notes, Stein was in a cardiac ward with a heart infection when Madonna came to visit him. “She was all dolled up in cheap punky gear, the kind of club kid who looked absurdly out of place in a cardiac ward,” he wrote in his memoir Siren Song.

“She wasn’t even interested in hearing me explain how much I liked her demo. ‘The thing to do now,’ she said, ‘is sign me to a record deal’.”

Other Sire artists included Depeche Mode, Ice-T, Lou Reed, The Smiths, The Cure, Seal, Aphex Twin, and many, many more.

Stein founded the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation, and was himself inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. In their obituary, Variety called him “one of the greatest A&R executives in modern music history”.

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