Enduring Love

According to Radio 2’s current two-part documentary, Seymour Stein is ‘The last of the Great record men’ (available on iPlayer radio). That’s a big billing, but in Stein's case it’s not that far off the mark. in a career that has lasted over 60 years and counting, Stein, who co-founded sire records, discovered The Ramones, 

Talking heads and madonna to name but three. in an industry now run by accountants and marketeers, Stein remains a music lover, an enthusiast, indeed an uberfan. In conversation with friend and pop manager Vicki Wickham, Stein’s love of music and musicians shines through.

He talks about a mad dash from New York to London on Concorde that he couldn’t really afford to catch Depeche Mode playing live in Basildon that same night, after he read about them in a music paper. This wasn’t done for show or effect. In those pre-internet days, it was the only way he’d get to see an obscure British band whose demo recordings he’d liked. Record companies now expect instant success and if an artist doesn’t deliver straight away, they’re dumped. Stein underlined the importance of giving an act a chance to find their way by saying that he felt Madonna wasn’t truly established until her fifth single, Borderline.

I said ‘in conversation with’ Wickham above, but the reality is that she doesn’t really get a word in edgeways. Whether this is how the conversation proceeded or just the nature of the edit, I’m not sure, but having interviewed stein many years ago myself, I can well believe it’s the former. Many people find that their music tastes contract as they get older, but stein is 76 now, and his ears are still wide open to new sounds. He’s an example to us all, and long may he enthuse.

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