LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Longtime Sire Records Chairman and music industry icon Seymour Stein announced that he’s exiting Sire Records/WMG Group.
In making the announcement, Stein said: “Writing and promoting my autobiography, Siren Song, along with the news of my Grammy Award, brought a flood of memories from my earliest days at Sire right up to the present.
“I was very fortunate during my youth to learn from so many great indie label people, like Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun and Jerry Wexler at Atlantic, and my greatest mentor, Syd Nathan at King Records. I went on to work with so many other great indies around the world as Sire grew to become the legendary brand it is today. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the amazing artists – far too many to name – who have called Sire home over the years.
“I’ve enjoyed much of my time at Warner’s, but in truth, I long for my indie roots and the greater independence that I experienced back in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. So the time has come to move on to the next phase of my career, leaving Sire in the hands of Rani Hancock, whom I sincerely wish all the luck in the world. I’m very proud that Sire was named the #15 label of the past 100 years in a major poll conducted by Variety earlier this year. I trust that it will continue to be a place where great songs and great artists will live for many years to come.
Stein made the announcement during a gala on July 14th at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles when he was presented with the Recording Academy’s Trustees Award.
Stein, who co-founded co-founded Sire Productions with producer Richard Gottehrer in 1966, launched Sire Records the following year.
The label went on to release seminal recordings from a who’s who of rock music, including The Cure, The Replacements, k.d. lang, Echo & The Bunnymen, Brian Wilson, Lou Reed, Seal, The English Beat, Erasure, The Cult, Richard Hell, The Undertones, Madness, Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, My Bloody Valentin and dozens more.
Stein played a key role in fostering the nascent punk rock movement in the U.S. when he signed The Ramones to a recording deal with Sire.
“It was like sticking my hand in a live electric light socket,” Stein said of his first experience seeing the Ramones perform live in 1975.
The Ramones would go on to release their first album “Ramones” on the label in 1976, and four decades later, it remains one of the seminal recordings in rock and roll history.
That same year, Sire struck a distribution pact with Warner Bros. Records, and in 1980, Warner Music Group acquired Sire, with Stein becoming a member of WMG’s senior management team.
Stein and Sire Records also played a key role in the rise of New Wave, a term that Stein himself coined. Sire served as a launch point for the careers of acts like The Talking Heads and The Pretenders, and the label released classic pop singles like M’s “Pop Muzik,” Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” and Modern English’s “I Melt With You.”
Stein got his start in the music industry in 1955 when he was just 13. He was granted access to the publication’s archive and he assembled two decades of charts. While interning at Billboard, he was mentored by Music Editor Paul Ackerman and Chart Editor Tom Noonan and joined the publication’s staff full time upon graduation.
In 1961, he moved to Cincinnati, where he worked for King Records founder Syd Nathan, getting his first experience on the label side of the business.
In 1963, Stein returned to New York to work with George Goldner, who had partnered with songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to form Red Bird Records, headquartered in the Brill Building.
Among his other mentors during this period were Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun, Nesuhi Ertegun, and Jerry Wexler.