Seymour Stein, Music Executive For Madonna & Talking Heads, Passes Away

3 April 2023 | 12:08 pm | Mary Varvaris

"... The music he brought to the world impacted so many people’s lives in a positive way.”

(Source: Supplied)

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Seymour Stein, a titan of the music industry, passed away at 80 from cancer.

Best known for signing Madonna to Sire Records and helping launch her career, as well as signing Talking Heads and The Ramones, Stein was one of the most successful music executives of all time.

In a statement shared with Variety, Stein’s daughter Mandy wrote, “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 Stein also shared an affinity for Australian music, even appearing as a keynote speaker at BIGSOUND twice - in 2008 and 2011. 

The first Australian band Stein signed was The Saints after witnessing them live. “I put out Australian music in America before anyone — a record I’m Stranded by The Saints,” he shared in an interview with Cuepoint

Stein continued, “I told The Saints’ manager that I’d never signed a band until I’d seen them live, and that I’d always wanted to go to Australia. Eight months later, I went out there and signed [The Saints] and another band, Radio Birdman. Both of those bands have been inducted into the Australian Music Hall Of Fame, and I’m very proud of that.”

Stein was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2005, in the Lifetime Achievement category. 

As well as his most successful signing, Madonna, Seymour Stein also signed The Pretenders, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Cure, Echo And The Bunnymen, Ice-T, Ministry, and more.

In a previous Billboard interview, Stein said about signing Madonna: “I signed her because I believed in Mark Kamins, who I thought was the greatest DJ, and he wanted to be a producer. So I gave him some money to bring me an artist and the third or fourth thing he brought me was Madonna. And yes, I was very involved in the beginning. 

"Then I realised, ‘This woman is smarter than all of us. Just get out of her way.'”

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