Seymour Stein, best known for his launch Madonna‘s pop career and signing of early punk rock icons, including the Ramones and Talking Heads, died Sunday morning at age 80.
The music mogul – who helped found the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation and was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2005 – died of cancer in Los Angeles, according to a statement from his family.
His daughter, Mandy Stein, confirmed the news in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I didn’t have the most conventional upbringing, but I wouldn’t change my life or my relationship with my father for the world, and he was a loving and caring grandfather who loved every moment with his three granddaughters,” she said. .
She continued, “He gave me the ultimate soundtrack, as well as his wicked sense of humor. I am beyond grateful for every minute our family spent with him, and that the music he brought into the world positively impacted the lives of so many people.”
Before taking a chance on musical icons, including the Material Girl hitmaker, 64, Stein began working as an assistant to Tommy Noonan, then head of charts at Billboard.
“I was just 16 and working at Billboard after school. From the time I was 9 years old, I knew I wanted to be in the music business,” he said in 2015.
“I think of my education in part as my early years at Billboard,” he told the magazine. ‘[Former editor] Paul Ackerman invited me to attend these Wednesday night music review sessions and even gave me a bill to stay at one of the hotels close to the Billboard offices… that way I could get up and take the subway to Lafayette Brooklyn High School.”
In 2012, he was the first recipient of Billboard’s Icon Award and four years later won the Richmond Hitmaker Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony.
Speaking of his earliest memory of the Queen of Pop, he said, “I loved Madonna’s voice, I loved the feel and I loved the name Madonna. I liked it all and played it again,” he wrote in his 2018 memoir Siren Song.
“She was all dolled up in cheap punky gear, the kind of club kid who looked absurdly out of place in a cardiac ward,” he added.
“She didn’t even want to hear me explain how much I liked her demo. “What you need to do now,” she said, “is sign me a record deal.”
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