How I Met Madonna, by Seymour Stein, the Man Who Signed Her

Seymour Stein is indisputably one of the greatest A&R men in music-business history: As chief of Sire Records, which he cofounded with Richard Gottehrer in 1966, he presided over a label that for decades had not only massive hits - from Madonna, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Seal and others - but also acts that may not have had multiplatinum sales but shaped the sound of the last quarter of the 20th century: the Ramones, Lou Reed, the Pretenders, the Smiths, the Cure, the Replacements, Aphex Twin and so many more. A well-curated mixtape of Sire releases from the ‘80s and ‘90s is like the soundtrack to an era.

Yet Stein’s career stretches back to the 1950s: He began at Billboard and soon moved over to Syd Nathan’s King Records - home of James Brown - and several other gigs before cofounding Sire. And he’s still at it: He remains Sire’s chairman and on any given day is jetting across the globe to speak at conferences and find talent (he’s big on China and India these days), or he’s in the office, fielding calls from his mind-boggling circle of friends.

Stein (pictured below with Madonna and, far left, David Byrne) has had an astonishing life, and he’s finally penned an autobiography (with cowriter Gareth Murphy), which publishes today, called 'Siren Song: My Life in Music.' Variety is honored to present a lightly edited excerpt from the chapter where he meets Madonna for the first time.

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I was blowtorching the candle at both ends, and in mid-1982, I started getting pains in my chest. I thought I was getting a heart attack, so I didn’t waste any time seeing a doc. An EKG showed that the hole between the left and right ventricles was infected. My rare condition had a name: subacute endocarditis. The good news, however, was that it was fixable with open-heart surgery. I was checked straight into Lenox Hill Hospital for four weeks of penicillin to clear up the infection before they decided what to do about the deformation. And right there, feeling sorry for myself in that ass-numbing bed, was where the record man’s equivalent of Florence Nightingale walked in. Yes, you guessed it, she wasn’t really a nurse, though sometimes I do wonder if singers are types of faith healers.

The series of events that brought Madonna to my hospital bed began months earlier when Mark Kamins started dropping hints. Danceteria was still the number-one downtown club, and Mark was arguably New York’s hottest deejay. Unfortunately, he wasn’t making enough money and knew he had to broaden his professional horizons while he was in such demand. We’d asked him to remix a David Byrne solo track called 'Big Business,' but Mark was dreaming of becoming a real-deal producer and asked me for help. I told him flat out that no big artist would ever risk working with an unproven producer, even if he was New York’s hippest deejay. Like everyone else, he’d have to earn his stripes by finding nobodies and making them sound like stars.

One night in Danceteria, he had been approached by this dancing beauty who introduced herself. Madonna charmed the pants off him, literally, and played him a self-made demo of a song she wrote called 'Everybody,' which she’d made with a guy called Steve Bray. Mark then reworked and revamped the whole tune from scratch in a better studio with better musicians. He even had the sense to test his mix on the dance floor before shopping it around. The crowd seemed to respond enthusiastically, so he made copies and went hustling.

I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been played this demo yet, so I arranged for my secretary to send the cassette into Lenox Hill Hospital, where I duly slotted it into my Sony Walkman. As penicillin dripped into my heart, I lay there and listened to Mark’s first find. I’m sure I was going nuts in that little room, but I immediately felt an excitement. I liked the hook, I liked Madonna’s voice, I liked the feel, and I liked the name Madonna. I liked it all and played it again. I never overanalyze or suck the life out of whatever I instinctively enjoy. I reached over and called up Mark. 'Can I meet you and Madonna?'

He called back saying they’d drop by the hospital that evening. 'What?'

'I know. I told her you were sick, but she really wants this.'

I just said, 'Okay, see you this evening,' and hit all the panic buttons. 'Get me a pair of pajamas,' I told my secretary. 'Oh, and send me in a hairdresser as quickly as you can.' I then pushed the buzzer for nurse assistance. 'Someone important is coming in. I need to wash. Can you unplug this drip while I have a shower?'

From Variety Via Yahoo! News


Madonna dancing with the Batukadera’s of Cabo Verde

Madonna has been dancing with the Batukadera’s of Cabo Verde along with musician Dino d’Santiago as she posted on her Instagram page.


Antonio Banderas calls Madonna ‘the most committed artist’ he’s ever worked with

In 1996, Antonio Banderas starred with pop icon Madonna in the musical drama Evita, in which Madonna starred in the role of Eva Péron and Banderas played Argentinian everyman Ché. While Madonna’s casting was controversial, Banderas had nothing but love reflecting back on his costar. 'She was totally into this character. It was actually great working with her,' he tells Lola Ogunnaike, host of PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing.

The actor recalls a day filming at La Casa Rosada - the residence of the Argentinian President, akin to the White House, where Madonna showed her commitment to the film: 'She got an idea with [director] Alan Parker: we have 5,000 extras in the Plaza de Mayo where she has to give a speech - 'Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.' So she came dressed as Eva Duarte de Perón, shooting with no rehearsal, no nothing, and the extras’ reaction was extraordinary. All of the extras started crying, and the cameras were shooting, so we captured all of that. It was one of those magic moments I will never forget.'

From EW.com


10 Reasons Madonna Is An Eternal Inspiration to the LGBTQ Community

To celebrate Pride Month Billboard magazine have republished this article about how Madonna is a constant inspiration to the LGBTQ community:

The task of defining Madonna’s impact is brutal. You could say she redefined the power of pop stardom. Or helped establish music videos as an art form. Or called her own shots in a career that amounts to living mythology. But that would still be selling Madonna short, since any rote discussion of her 'great business skills' leaves out the impact of Madonna as a person - the impish, unapologetic, philanthropic, often hilarious crusader who has been the LGBTQ community’s raddest pop heroine since she introduced her armpits to a hand dryer in Desperately Seeking Susan.

As far as being an ally goes, she’s the Elizabeth Taylor of pop; as far as iconography goes, she’s like if Marlene Dietrich were an X-Men. That’s a whole lot of gay credibility. Pride Month is not the same without Madonna and her music, and thus we recount 10 of her great gay moments.

1. Those Decades of AIDS Activism

Back in the ‘80s, we were hard up for celebrities who spoke out against AIDS (and it didn’t help that we had a president who was, shall we say, reticent on the subject). But in 1989 Madonna and her Detroit-era dance instructor Christopher Flynn, who was then diagnosed with AIDS, fired up New York with a major benefit dance marathon. By that time, Madonna had already lost her good friend Martin Burgoyne to the epidemic. In footage from the event, she thrashes about with sweet abandon. That’s fun to watch, but it’s even cooler to see Flynn, who later died from the illness, open up about Madonna as a confidante who understood him.

2. The Documentary Where Madonna Is Queen, But the Gays Rule Too

The ‘91 documentary Truth or Dare is quite possibly the second most essential purchase for new Madonna fans after The Immaculate Collection. It gives you legendary performances (not just the masturbation-centric 'Like a Virgin' but also 'Oh Father,' 'Vogue,' and 'Keep It Together'), infamous cameos from the likes of Antonio Banderas, Kevin Costner, and then-beau Warren Beatty, plus scream-worthy interactions with her backup dancers, most of whom were gay. Truth or Dare is one of the first documentaries I ever saw that featured gay dudes hanging out. They go to a Pride parade, gossip about each other, and get an earful from Madonna when they’re mean to another dancer. 'Be nice to him. He doesn’t have the thick skin that you have,' she intones like the headmistress of homosexuality. Be sure to bring a hanky when she dedicates a show to her pal Keith Haring, who died just before the tour started.

To read the rest of the article visit: www.billboard.com/pride/madonna-lgbtq


Details of Madonna’s new album leak online

It’s not the start to a new album campaign that Madonna was hoping for. Currently readying up her fourteenth studio album - which forthcoming single Beautiful Game is set to feature on - Madge will be disappointed to discover that apparent details about the new record have already leaked online.

With no release date in sight, fans have been given their first glimpse of the new album - which is still untitled - through the leaked details. A source close to Madonna’s camp has spilled the beans, revealing the titles of a number of songs and details about some of the lyrics.

Those titles include Risky Places - which, it’s claimed, lists off the places where Madonna would like to have sex (which apparently includes Kendrick Lamar’s bathroom) - Dos Hermano (which is partly sung in Spanish) and Turn Back Time. Two other tracks - Smartgun, which tells the story of a black boy who is shot by police, and Persistence - have also been brought to light in the leak.

‘Madonna is desperate to make her 14th album her most cutting edge yet,’ the insider told The Sun newspaper. ‘She is going to be furious that her early work is already being leaked when the whole point is for it to have a shock impact.’ Metro.co.uk has contacted Madonna’s reps for comment.

From Metro.co.uk


'The Madonna of Bolton' gets film deal and Madonna's blessing!

Exciting news in from Matt Cain the author of crowd-funded novel 'The Madonna of Bolton', the book has now got a six-figure film rights deal with Live Nation and has Madonna's blessing!

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon via mybook.to/madonnabolton

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Journalist Matt Cain’s novel, one of the fastest-funded in Unbound’s history, has won a six-figure film deal.

The publication date of the former Attitude editor’s The Madonna of Bolton had already been pushed forward by Unbound to 12th July after receiving a rush of support from crowdfunders last autumn, including many high profile authors, after initially being rejected by mainstream publishers.

Now the film arm of Live Nation, which also represents Madonna, has bought the film rights to the work with the options for sequels and a stage musical in a six figure deal, which comes with the pop icon’s “blessing”, Cain told The Bookseller. The deal with Live Nation Productions, which is based in Los Angeles and focuses on "groundbreaking, musically-driven stories", also comes with permission to use the pop icon's music.

Cain's third novel was picked up by Unbound last year after being declined more than 30 times by traditional publishers. Authors including David Walliams, David Nicholls and S J Watson were among those to pledge money to crowdfund the work and it reached its goal in just seven days, becoming one of the fastest-funded books on the platform.

Read more at: www.thebookseller.com/news

This news was also picked up in London newspaper the Evening Standard.

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Madonna pays tribute to producer

Madonna has paid tribute and expressed her sadness following the death of Grammy-winning musician Reggie Lucas, saying he was 'an important part of my musical past'.

Lucas, who produced the bulk of Madonna's eponymous debut album, died in New York on Saturday at the age of 65. His daughter, Lisa Lucas, told the Associated Press her father died from complications with his heart.

Madonna shared a picture of Lucas on her social media pages and wrote: 'Sad to hear that Reggie Lucas is Gone. An important part of my musical past! RIP #gratitude #luckystar'

Lucas was also known for playing with legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in the 1970s, before beginning a musical partnership with percussionist James Mtume.

Together they wrote hits such as Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway's The Closer I Get To You and Stephanie Mills's Never Knew Love Like This Before, which won the duo a Grammy for best R&B song.

Lucas went on to produce the majority of Madonna's 1983 debut album, which sold more than five million copies and included the hits Borderline and Lucky Star.

His daughter Lisa said on Facebook: 'After a long and arduous struggle with his physical heart (his emotional one was perfect) he was called home. I wish he'd had more time, I wish we'd all had more time with him, but he left this world absolutely covered in love, with his hands held and his family beside him. I'm glad he's at peace now.'

From RTE News


Madonna set to release first single in three years

Madonna has announced her first single for three years will be released soon and will be called Beautiful Game.

The singer has also released what appears to be accompanying artwork for the song via her social media platforms.

The picture features Madonna wearing a crown of thorns under the words Beautiful Game.

In a caption alongside the photo the singer wrote: 'That I never Learned … Coming Soon! #music #magic #mirwais'

In the message Madonna appears to be alluding to the lyrics of the song, which she performed live at the Met Gala.

During her performance on May 8 she sang: 'It’s a beautiful plan, but I’m not concerned, it’s a beautiful game, that I never learned, you have taught me to shut my mouth, that I not get burned, keep your beautiful lies, ‘cause I’m not concerned.'

Madonna also performed her 1989 number one single Like A Prayer during her appearance on stage at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

On the night she again wore a crown of thorns and was flanked by a choir dressed in monk’s robes.

Announcing her new music Madonna, 59, also mentioned the producer Mirwais (full name Mirwais Ahmadzai) who she has been collaborating with on her new record.

Mirwais previously worked on her albums Music and American Life.

Madonna has been working on what will be her 14th studio album for some time and has been posting regular studio updates on social media.

Madonna’s last album was 2015’s Rebel Heart which peaked at number two in the US and on the Official Albums Chart in the UK.

From The Irish Times