Seymour Stein's first exposure to music was listening to the chart countdown on Martin Block's 'Make Believe Ballroom' upon returning home from synagogue, hiding the radio under the pillow from his disapproving father. Billboard's Tom Noonan hired him to work at the trade publication as a teenager, where he immediately began devouring the history of the business.
From there, Stein served as an assistant to the man he describes as 'my greatest mentor,' the legendary Syd Nathan at Cincinnati's King Records, home of James Brown. Working at the Brill Building for Red Bird Records, he met Richard Gottehrer, with whom he launched Sire Records in 1966, first as a production company, then as a groundbreaking label, home of, among others, the first wave of artists to emerge from the punk scene at New York's famed music club CBGB. His signings to Sire ranged from the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Dead Boys, and Richard Hell to second-wave groups from across the globe, including the Pretenders, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, the Cure, Soft Cell, the Replacements, Echo & The Bunnymen, Dinosaur Jr., and k.d. lang. In 1982 he signed an ambitious dancer-turned-artist from Detroit named Madonna, and the rest was history.
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