Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee And Record Industry Exec Who Signed Madonna, Talking Heads, Ice-T Dies At 80

Seymour Stein always had a love for music. He was born in 1942 in New York City, and by the time he was in his teenager, he worked at James Brown’s label, King Records, during the summer. In his mid-20s, he became a co-founder of Sire Productions which eventually became Sire Records.

Through Sire Records, Stein helped launch the careers of multiple musicians including Madonna, Talking Heads, The Ramones, and The Pretenders, Ice T, Depeche Mode, and many more. He also helped found the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was later inducted into the Rock in Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Now, comes the sad news that Stein has died at the age of 80. According to a statement released by his family, he died on April 2nd in Los Angeles. The cause of death was cancer.

Stein officially retired in 2018, the same year his memoir, “Siren Song” was published. In his memoir, he wrote about how he discovered Madonna. He explained his thoughts when he listened to her demo. He wrote, “I liked Madonna’s voice, I liked the feel, and I liked the name Madonna. I liked it all and played it again.” He also explained Madonna’s reaction when he met with her for the first time.

Stein was in the hospital when he heard Madonna’s demo tape. He was there due to a heart infection, but he was so eager to meet her that he didn’t wait until he was released from the hospital. Instead, he requested that she meet him in his hospital room. He wrote, “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 added, “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.’”

For a short time, Stein was married to Linda Adler, and the couple had two children together, Mandy Stein, and Samantha Lee Jacobs who died in 2013 from brain cancer. The couple got divorced in the 1970s, and Stein later came out as gay.

In a statement, Mandy Stein said of her father, “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.”

Watch the video below to learn more about Stein’s life and career from Stein himself as well as from other people in the music industry.