Madonna: "Seymour Stein Has Left Us! I need to catch my breath"

Saturday 08 April 2023

Seymour Stein, the Record Industry Giant Who Signed Madonna has died from cancer aged 80.

With an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music, he championed acts including the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Pretenders, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and k.d. lang on his label Sire, and helped found the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Our tribute playlist samples some of the great moments of music he enabled. Watch Here

His artists were quick to pay tribute to their mentors passing:


“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!!!

Jerry Harrison - Talking Heads

It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Seymour Stein and my sympathy goes out to his daughter, Mandy Stein.  Seymour was a true original and a remarkable “record man.”  Without the backing of a large record company, he had to find artists in the earliest moments of their careers.  For decades his taste was spot on and there are very few who can match his track record. He also had the good sense and confidence to let artists make their own decisions: Talking Heads determined the direction of each album, designed all of our early covers, and directed our own videos. We were lucky to have such a strong ally who had both confidence in us and in his intuition.  He will be sorely missed.

Chrissie Hynde - The Pretenders

*While writing this, I received the sad news that Seymour Stein has passed away.  Everyone the world over owes a tremendous debt to the man.  A true music lover who supported all of us and had an  encyclopedic knowledge of every genre of music. 

 Thank-you Seymour!

Bless you!


Ian McCulloch

Seymour Stein was one of the good ones. He could spot something great and/or potentially great in the first few bars in many cases, and sometimes he’d wait for the chorus before he decided if it was any good or not.

He had taste (a word not usually associated with a record company boss), and he had edge. And he loved music and it’s rawness, because it was more real like that. The artists he signed to Sire kept their identities by and large, which is another big reason Seymour was so great.

He knew why punk had to happen, and the way that became a platform for the indie and college alternative music scene, which were easily the best times (the years when things changed in the music business finally and new music was being played everywhere)we, The Bunnymen, ever had.

The whole Indie Alternative world was taking off and taking over , and Seymour played a massive role in the growth of a genre of music that was more diverse than anything before and it was being heard because of College Radio and the network of stations that were sprouting up all across America. I think I’m only realising now how exciting and amazing that time was.

Seymour Stein was the man who signed The Ramones !!! Incredible ears he had. And he got it. Obviously, I wish he was just beginning his Sire days; I could have learnt so much from him… Goodnight, God bless Seymour; I’m proud to have known you…
Mac Xxx 😎