Seymour Stein has died aged 80

Farewell to the Sire Records founder who signed Ramones, Talking Heads and more

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Seymour Stein has died at the age of 80.

His passing was confirmed by his youngest daughter Mandy, who told The New York Times that he died in his Los Angeles home on Sunday (April 2) after a battle with cancer.

Credit: Matthew Eisman/WireImage

Stein was born in New York City on April 18, 1942. He became enamoured with the music industry in high school, and at 15 (in 1957), worked a summer internship at King Records in Cincinnati. He became a clerk for Billboard just a year later, and in 1961, took on a permanent role at King.


In 1966, Stein – alongside record producer Richard Gottehrer – founded Sire Productions. The pair each invested $10,000 (today amounting to a little under $93,000) and started out by introducing the underground sounds of British prog-rock to the American market. By the mid-1970s, Sire was a force to be reckoned with in the US’ new wave and punk scenes, with Stein signing both the Ramones and Talking Heads in 1975.

During the ’80s, he signed The Pretenders and Madonna while Sire became the American home for UK bands including The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Smiths. He remained Sire’s president – as well as the vice president of Warner Bros. Records – until he retired from the music industry in July of 2018. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (which he co-founded in 1983) in 2005, and in 2016, was crowned with the Richmond Hitmaker Award in the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

The same year he retired, Stein published his autobiography, Siren Song: My Life In Music. A year prior, at age 75, he came out as gay.


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