Famed record company executive Seymour Stein dead at 80

Seymour Stein at the 20th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Seymour Stein at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2005 (Image credit: Jeff Kravitz)

Legendary record company man Seymour Stein has died at the age of 80. The news was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by his daughter, Mandy. 

"I grew up surrounded by music," she said. "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 humour. 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."

Stein was born in Brooklyn in 1942, and set up Sire Productions in 1966 with producer Richard Gottehrer. Two years later Sire Records released its first single – Loving Kind Of Way by Spokane, WA. garage pop act The Jam – before going on to put out albums by the likes of Barclay James Harvest, The Deviants, Focus, The Flaming Groovies, Stackridge and the Climax Blues Band.

Sire became best known during the punk era, when Stein brought Ramones, Talking Heads, The Saints, Dead Boys, Richard Hell & The Voidoids and The Undertones to the label. He would go on to sign Madonna, The Replacements, Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, Radio Birdman, The Cult, k.d. lang, Ministry, The Pretenders, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., Belly, Ice-T and many more.

Stein was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, recognised for a lifetime of dedication to music. He also received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2018. 

"Ears are very important," he told The Guardian in 2018. "If you don’t have them, you better hire someone who does. And there are some record companies [where] the heads of whom are not the ear people. The business people may have been fortunate to get the right people around them. 

"I was never like that because I could never afford them. I had to do all of it. I don’t think I’m a bad businessman, and I may not be the greatest A&R man, but I think it’s my ears that got me through."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.