Seymour Stein—the record industry luminary who signed Madonna, Ramones, Talking Heads, and more to his label Sire Records—has died, The New York Times reports. Stein’s daughter Mandy Stein said he died at home on Sunday of cancer. He was 80.
Stein was infatuated with the recording industry from an early age. After high school, he worked at Billboard and got his start on the label front at King Records—the Cincinnati soul label that was home to James Brown. In 1966, he co-founded Sire with Richard Gottehrer.
As a co-founder of Sire Records, Stein helped break the careers of some of the most iconic artists in popular music and was a key champion of punk rock and new wave. In addition to Ramones and Talking Heads, Sire brought in the Replacements, the Pretenders, the Saints, the Smiths, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Dead Boys, the Undertones, Echo & the Bunnymen, Ministry, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, and more.
He famously signed Madonna when she visited him at the side of his hospital bed. Stein was part of the group of industry professionals who started the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There’s a Belle & Sebastian song on The Boy With the Arab Strap called “Seymour Stein.” His memoir Siren Song: My Life in Music was released in 2018.