Sire Records Chairman and musical industry icon Seymour Stein was honored with the Recording Academy’s prestigious Trustees Award on Saturday night, July 14th, at the organization’s Special Merit Awards ceremony and tribute concert, held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Billed as “GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends,” the event will be broadcast later this year as part of the Great Performances series on PBS.
The award was presented to Stein by Henry Rollins, who said, “Seymour is the ultimate visionary indie, hearts & minds music executive of all time. His unquenchable passion has made the world a better, more open, free and cool place for almost six decades… Seymour, thank you for being the kind of record man that makes music history.”
The Trustees Award is presented to individuals who, during their careers in music, have made significant contributions, other than performance, to the field of recording. Past recipients have included legendary music executives such as Ahmet Ertegun, Nesuhi Ertegun, Jac Holzman, Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, Mo Ostin, Chris Blackwell, Clive Davis, and many others.
Stein is the author of the acclaimed autobiography, Siren Song, which was published last month by St. Martin’s Press. In addition to his Grammy Award, Stein was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he co-founded in 1983; has been honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame; and was the first recipient of Billboard’s Icon Award.
Coinciding with his Recording Academy honor, Stein has announced his departure from Warner Music Group (WMG). Stein, who co-founded Sire Records in 1967 as an independent label, joined WMG in 1976 when Sire became part of Warner Bros. Records. For a half century, Stein has been Sire’s driving visionary and creative force, signing such groundbreaking artists as Ramones, Talking Heads, Madonna, Pretenders, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, The Cure, k.d. lang, The Cult, The Replacements, Ice-T, and dozens more. His unique ability to identify cutting edge talent and anticipate musical trends made Sire one of the world’s most influential record labels and cultural forces.
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.
“Rest assured, I intend to remain active, and I’ll be back in action again soon. I’m looking forward to the future and continuing to develop new artists in the music business that I love so much.”