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Er zijn maar weinig Nederlandse popgroepen die echt doorbraken in de Verenigde Staten – niet alleen met een hitsingle (‘Venus’, Shocking Blue, is een klassiek voorbeeld), maar ook echt door er met succes op te treden. De Golden Earring zou je kunnen noemen – en ook Focus.
    Succes heb je niet alleen omdat je goede muziek maakt, maar ook omdat mensen in de muziekbusiness bereid zijn om stevig in je te investeren. Er gaat namelijk veel geld zitten in het opzetten van een Amerikaanse toernee, met apparatuur, trucks, hotels, vliegtickets enzovoort. Zonder dat soort mensen bereik je niets. In gewone muziekbladen, voor de liefhebbers, worden ze meestal nauwelijks genoemd. En als dat het geval is worden ze vaak in een negatief licht geplaatst.
    Over dit soort mensen heb ik regelmatig op deze website gepubliceerd – zoals Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, Ron Alexenburg, Scooter Braun, Jerry Moss, Alan Livingston en de Nederlander Freddy Haayen.
 
 
415 1 Stein Byrne Madonna 1996Seymour Stein in 1996 met Madonna en David Byrne (Talking Heads)
 
 
Joodse achtergrond
 
 
Seymour Stein (geb. 18 april 1942) is de man die zich sterk in Amerika maakte voor Focus, de groep van twee tegenpolen: Jan Akkerman en Thijs van Leer. Zijn leven in de muziek en in de muziekbusiness wil ik in dit artikel eens aan de orde stellen.
    Aan journaliste Dana Kessler vertelde Seymour tijdens een verblijf in Israel anno 2013 een en ander over zijn joodse achtergrond. Allereerst dat hij geboren was met de achternaam Steinbigle. Als veel Amerikanen hadden zijn ouders een Oost-Europese achtergrond. “They were from Galicia, which was part of Poland, although my grandmother never liked to think of it as Poland. She thought of it as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which at some point it was”.
    Seymour: “I was born in Brooklyn, in Bensonhurst, which is an Italian and Jewish neighborhood. I had as many, if not more, Italian friends than Jewish friends. I went to public school, I didn’t go to yeshiva, but my father was quite orthodox”.
 
Had het jood zijn hem in de muziek gebracht, die vraag werd hem voorgelegd.
    “Well, that’s certainly one of the aspects, but it’s not just that. It’s a connection to my father most of all. He was a great influence on me and a very religious man. On Saturday mornings when I came back from the synagogue I used to listen to Martin Block’s ‘Make Believe Ballroom’, hiding the radio under my pillow so my father wouldn’t hear. He wanted me to keep Shabbos. My father was quite strict in his own way, but I lived my own life.
    I knew from a very early age that the only thing that would make me happy is being in the music business and I was very fortunate. My dream came true”.
   Martin Block was een van de eerste radiomensen die – al in de jaren 1930 – grammofoonplaten op de radio liet horen. Op de plaat vastgelegde in plaats van levende muziek, uit een ‘ballroom’, was een nieuw verschijnsel. Een radio-programma maken op basis van grammofoonplaten werd aanvankelijk als onecht gezien; vandaar de uitdrukking ‘make believe ballroom’.
 
Seymour besefte dat nogal wat Amerikaanse joden het gemaakt hadden in de popmuziek. Hij schudde de voorbeelden uit zijn mouw. “The entertainment business was always a good place for Jews. There have always been a lot of Jews in entertainment: in television, in motion pictures, in music. And yes, there were always many Jews in the American popular music business.
   You can certainly say that Tin Pan Alley songwriters were dominated by Jews, like Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern.
   Even in the early days of rock ’n’ roll the greatest writing teams were Jewish, like Leiber and Stoller, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka. Jeff Barry was also Jewish, Ellie Greenwich was half-Jewish. Jews are great songwriters, they’re great entertainers”.
 
 
415 2 Jerry Leiber en Mike StollerJerry Leiber en Mike Stoller
 
 
Stein legde uit waarom dat volgens hem het geval was. “They couldn’t get into other fields. It’s amazing now that so many doctors and lawyers are Jewish. Jews in America weren’t allowed in those professions 120 years ago. Music is something Jews were good at and they could do. All immigrants into America tried their hand at show-business. The first wave of really good songwriters were the Irish. And there were great Italian songwriters too. I don’t think the Jews had any exclusivity in terms of musical talent”.
 
 
Muziek in de jeugd van Seymour Stein
 
 
Uit zichzelf begon Seymour te praten over de popmuziek van zijn jeugd. “My favorite artists are black. I was weaned on rhythm and blues: Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown – who I wound up working with – Sam Cooke, Ray Charles. Doo-wop groups like The Moonglows, The Flamingos and The Drifters, and also country music. Hank Williams was a genius.
   These are the people who influenced me most as a kid. I believe that the music that stays with you all your life and influences you is the music you hear around the age of 13. For some people who are more advanced, and I probably was because I started listening to music so early, it might be the music you hear when you’re 11 or 10. And for others, who aren’t exposed to music at such an early age, maybe even 15 or 16. But everybody has a soundtrack to their lives”.
 
 
Seymour Stein vertelt over zichzelf in Cashbox
 
 
Seymour Stein was een echte kenner van de geschiedenis van de popmuziek geworden. In 1969 al, in het jubileumnummer ter gelegenheid van 75 jaar Billboard, legde hij nauwkeurig uit waar rockmuziek uit was voortgekomen. Zijn artikel ‘Root forms: country & blues’ was een waar document. In 1980 (Cashbox) vertelde hij over zijn eigen rol in die wereld.
   Hoe belangrijk popmuziek was voor hem was maakte hij meteen duidelijk in het artikel. “My teenage years were so consumed with rock ’n’ roll music that I marked the passage of time with such events as Atlantic changing the color of its label from yellow to red, Bobby Lester being replaced by Harvey Fuqua in the Moonglows, and RCA purchasing Elvis’ contract from Sun”.
 
Stein wist waar hij het over had. Als opgroeiende jonge Amerikaan maakte hij het begin mee. Seymour had naar de radio geluisterd en diverse rock & roll-sterren op het hoogtepunt van hun carrière zelf zien optreden.
   “Growing up in Brooklyn in the mid-1950s gave me easy access to the great live revues held periodically at that borough’s premiere venues, the Fox and Paramount Theatres.
    The airwaves were full of great music: Alan Freed on WINS and Jocko Henderson and Jack Walker spearheading R&B on WOV, with WLIB, WWRL, WNJR and WHOM in hot pursuit.
    The four-year period from 1954 to the end of 1957 was rock’s first golden era, and the music turned itself inside out. There was the infusion of rhythm and blues into pop with the emergence of such immortals as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, the Drifters, Ray Charles, The Flamingos and, later, Sam Cooke and the Isley Brothers”.
    In elk interview gaf hij de namen aan van die artiesten met een donkere huid.
 
 
415 3 Bo Diddley

 
Blanke jongens hadden volgens hem succes omdat ze muziek maakten in de stijl van de zwarte R&B-artiesten. “White influenced rock, mostly country and rockabilly, broke through in 1956 with Elvis, followed by Gene Vincent, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and others. New York was the center of the music business and had its own special music ‘doo-wop’ with groups like the Heartbeats, Five Satins, Cleftones and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and Dion and the Belmonts.
    By 1957, branches of this music had spread to all major black urban areas, but particularly Chicago,Detroit, Philadelphia and Los Angeles”.
 
Aan het einde van de jaren vijftig was de eerste rock-golf voorbij. Opwindende blanke popmuziek maakte (tijdelijk) plaats voor wat meer zoete klanken. “Toward the end of the fifties, a slick, more stylized form of rock, lacking the spontaneity of the music that preceded it, began to take hold in America. Although certain of these artists like Ricky Nelson, Gene Pitney and Bobby Vee were to make significant contributions to rock, most of it was too watered down for my tastes”.
    Over die muziek was Seymour minder enthousiast.
 
 
Engeland
 
 
Seymour bleef niet in de Amerikaanse fifties hangen. Hij schreef zijn levensverhaal anno 1980 in het kader van een uitgave over de rol van de Britten in de popmuziek. Door zich rond 1960 op Engeland te richten verbreedde hij zijn kijk. “It was during this first lull in rock and roll that I set my sights on England to expand my horizons”.
    Bezeten van goede popmuziek, ging hij zich verdiepen in wat zich aan de andere kant van de Atlantische oceaan afspeelde. “Aside from the odd hit like ‘He’s Got the Whole World In His Hand’ by Laurie London [1958], my introduction to the British scene came from the record and sheet music charts of New Musical Express and Melody Maker that appeared in this country in Cash Box and Billboard each week and, later, from the magazines themselves.
    It was here that I first became aware of sub-publishing, noticing that many of the American hits were published by different companies I had never heard of, such as Lawrence Wright, Boosey and Hawkes, Campbell-Connelly, Keith Prowse, Feldmans, Francis, Day & Hunter, Macmelodies and Peter Maurice.
    The record labels were different, too, with names like Parlophone, Pye Nixa, Oriole, Top Rank and Fontana. It was a great shock to learn that RCA’s ‘Nipper’ [platenlabel met de hond] was actually the registered trademark of EMI’s HMV label, as was the Columbia label and their ‘musical note’ trademark”.
 
 
Engelse Decca
 
 
Toen Stein zijn blik vanuit New York op Engeland richtte, viel hem op dat Decca er een dominante rol speelde. “All American Decca records were released on either Coral or Brunswick, as the two Decca’s, although distributed by the British company, were totally separate.
    Decca was then the most aggressive company in licensing U.S. repertoire, most of which appeared on its London American subsidiary.
    EMI’s comparable label was Stateside, but it was a poor second.
    With material from Phil Spector’s Philles label, Eddie Cochran and Johnny Burnette from Liberty, Fats Domino & Ricky Nelson from Imperial and Duane Eddy from Jamie, Little Richard from Specialty and many others all available on London/American, the young British record buyer must have eyed that label as the Two-Tone of that period”.
 
Terwijl Seymour nog op school zat wist hij zich in New York al een baantje te verwerven bij Billboard. Bij het vakblad kon hij goed volgen wat er begin jaren zestig in Engeland aan de hand was. “While still in my final years of school, I secured a job working with Tom Noonan and Paul Ackerman at Billboard.
    This position made it easier to obtain copies of British releases. My favorites were ‘Picture of You’ by Joe Brown, ‘Shakin’ All Over’ by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, ‘What Do You Want’ by Adam Faith, ‘Move It’ by Cliff Richard, ‘Apache’ by the Shadows, Marty Wilde’s ‘Bad Boy’, and, of course, Joe Meek’s legendary instrumental, ‘Telstar’ by the Tornadoes”.
    In die tijd hoorde je Britse hits zelden of nooit op de Amerikaanse radio.
 
 
415 4 Joe Meek met TornadoesTornadoes met producer Joe Meek
 
 
King Records
 
 
Seymour, toen nog Steinbigle, verhuisde naar Cincinnati. In die stad voerde de joodse ondernemer Syd Nathan het bewind over King Records, het bedrijf dat onder meer James Brown huisvestte. Op bevel van Nathan veranderde Seymour zijn naam van Steinbigle in Stein.
    Nathan zag wel wat in de jongeman. “Your son has shellac in his veins”, vertelde hij aan zijn ouders.
    Het was een geweldige leerschool. “I learned everything. There were pressing plants, mastering rooms, a recording studio. I learned things about the record business that people who have been in there twenty years don’t know about today. I mean, he had me work in every department. One week I had to go into the room where they nickel-plated the stampers and everything”.
 
Bij King Records kwam Seymour tevens in contact met het Engelse muziekbedrijf EMI, de concurrent van Decca in Engeland. “Moving on from Billboard to King Records, the Cincinnati-based home of James Brown and other R&B greats, I came in contact with Len Wood, then managing director of EMI, King’s U.K. licensee.
    At one meeting he and Syd Nathan, King’s fiery founder, were heatedly debating King’s attempt to secure an option on all EMI repertoire if it was passed on by Capitol. Nathan did not succeed, but it was not until several years later that I realized how important this option could have been”.
 
 
415 5 Syd Nathan Seymour SteinSyd Nathan en Seymour Stein
   
 
Beatles
 
 
De Amerikaanse platenmaatschappij Capitol, door EMI (met labels als Columbia en Parlophone) gekocht, had voorlopig geen belangstelling voor Engelse acts als de Beatles. Britse artiesten waren immers zelden succesvol in Amerika.
    Stein voelde zich wel betrokken bij de muzikale ontwikkelingen ver weg: “When I heard the Beatles’ first Parlophone record, ‘Love Me Do’, I was not overly impressed. Their followup, ‘Please, Please Me’, was one of the most exciting records I had heard during the early part of 1963.
    I was really surprised, months later, to see the record released on Vee-Jay, as I felt certain Capitol would see the potential for America, especially since by that time, ‘From Me To You’ and ‘She Loves You’ had followed it to #1 in Britain.
    It was only Vee-Jay’s subsequent bankruptcy and EMI’s wisdom in licensing ‘She Loves You’ to Swan Records as a one-off that eventually secured the Beatles for Capitol. But Capitol was to continue passing on acts even after the Beatle breakthrough. They basically released those artists from the Brian Epstein stable like Cilla Black and Peter and Gordon, allowing the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, the Hollies, and the Animals to go elsewhere”.
    Volgens Stein liet het internationale EMI-concern dus veel kansen liggen op de Amerikaanse muziekmarkt.
 
Iedere Britse platenmaatschappij, rijk gezegend met te exporteren lokaal product, had zijn eigen aanpak ten aanzien van de exploitatie in de VS. Decca hield er een strak beleid op na, Pye gebruikte de eigen successen om zich te verzekeren van goede contacten met leveranciers van Amerikaanse hits voor de eigen markt.
    “Decca, having virtual control of its American company, saw to it that London released product by the Rolling Stones, Zombies, Moody Blues and the remainder of its roster.
    Pye, having no U.S. company of their own, would send their releases each week to the various labels they represented. At that time (1964), I was working with George Goldner, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller at Red Bird, and I remember their scrambling with Warner Brothers for rights to Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’.
    Pye also had the Kinks, the Searchers and Donovan”.
 
 
Sire Records
 
 
Stein stapte over van King naar Red Bird en zette vervolgens een eigen bedrijf op: Sire. Op basis van zijn belangstelling voor Britse popmuziek probeerde hij contacten in Europa te leggen. Dat viel niet mee. De grote Amerikaanse concerns waren in de sixties bereid met flinke bedragen over de brug te komen om Britse artiesten rechtstreeks onder contract te krijgen.
    “In 1966, when Richard Gottehrer and I started Sire Records, almost immediately we began looking toward Britain as a talent source. This was more out of necessity than design. Clive Davis had recently taken over at CBS and was determined to bring that company rock credibility at any cost.
    The deals he negotiated, followed by the other majors who were keeping pace, ushered in the modern recording contracts and big advances of today. As a fledgling company, Sire could not hope to compete”.
 
 
Blue Horizon met Fleetwood Mac
 
 
Toch wist Stein nog raak te schieten. “On one of my first trips to England, I met Mike Vernon, a staff producer at Decca and pioneer in that country’s blues revival. Among the acts he produced were John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Ten Years After and Savoy Brown.
    Mike was about to break away and devote himself full-time to operating his little blues label, Blue Horizon. I offered him some help in getting the company started and, after several months, was approached about becoming more involved.
    Sire bought a 50% share in Blue Horizon, and, during the early years of the company’s success with Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack, I spent months at a time in London. Mike had total control of A&R, and this left me free, by mutual agreement, to sign on behalf of Sire”.
    Stein stond dus mede aan de wieg van Fleetwood Mac, die op Blue Horizon hits had met ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ en ‘Albatross’.
 
 
Eerste eigen contracten
 
 
In de tijd dat Seymour Stein in Engeland opereerde maakte hij van de gelegenheid gebruik om voor Sire in Amerika groepen onder contract te nemen. In 1980 formuleerde hij dat als volgt: “My first signing - perhaps prophetically - was the Deviants in 1968, who many credit as being Britain’s original punk aggregation.
    This was followed by Barclay James Harvest, Climax Blues Band and Renaissance. Britain’s close proximity to the continent put me in contact with the music scenes in Holland, Germany and France and led to Sire’s signing of Focus”.
    Zo kwam de Nederlandse groep dus in Amerika terecht. Sire Records wist ‘Hocus Pocus’ anno 1973 in de Amerikaanse top 10 te brengen. Het album ‘Focus II’ (‘Moving Waves’) belandde eveneens in de top 10 van de Amerikaanse album hitlijst.
 
 
415 6 Focus op Sire Records
Focus in de VS op Sire Records
 
 
New Wave
 
 
In het artikel dat hij in 1980 voor Cashbox schreef legde Stein uit dat hij met Sire goed kon opereren vanwege zijn contacten met Britse muziekondernemers. Na het tijdperk met hippiemuziek en soms lang uitgesponnen symfonische albums, was een nieuwe generatie groepen zich weer met korte krachtige songs aan het profileren.
    “Over years of constant visits, I developed somewhat of a British instinct and attitude.
    When the ‘new wave’ scene started to emerge in New York, I knew this music would find immediate acceptance in England. The Ramones and Talking Heads were among the first bands to tour the U.K. Legend has it, in fact, that it was while watching the Ramones (opening for the Flamin' Groovies) on July 4, 1976 at the Roundhouse that both the Clash and Sex Pistols decided to turn professional.
    The interplay of bands during that period saw both the Stranglers and Boomtown Rats open for the Ramones, while Dire Straits’ first tour was as support to Talking Heads. Richard Hell did an early Clash tour, while the Dead Boys toured as special guests of the Damned”.
 
Stein, met gevoel voor de tijdgeest, kwam met Sire in actie. “Early in 1978, we began to seriously eye new British rock bands. The first to be signed were the Rezillos. Later that year, at the suggestion of label manager Paul McNally, we decided to explore the possibility of recording a contemporary album with the Searchers.
    Driving to one of their gigs listening to the John Peel show, I heard ‘Teenage Kicks’, recorded by the Londonderry-based Undertones [met zanger Feargal Sharkey]. Two days later, Paul was in Northern Ireland, and, within a week, they were signed to Sire. Shortly afterwards, Sire’s former U.K. promotion man, Andy Ferguson, became their manager. They have since had five hit singles and an album which has sold in excess of 100,000 units. They are starting to create excitement on this side of the Atlantic, as well”.
 
Ook de Pretenders, met zangeres Chrissie Hynde, verbonden zich aan Seymour Stein. “Real Records was started by Dave Hill. One of the first acts signed was the Pretenders, and when Dave decided to turn his full attention toward managing the Pretenders, Sire purchased Real.
    The Pretenders are one of the first major new acts of the 1980’s, with their album, produced by Chris Thomas, and single, ‘Brass In Pocket’, near or at the top of best seller charts worldwide. And the assurance of U.S. release and promotion makes Sire one of the most viable choices for British bands”.
    Chrissie Hynde later: “Without Seymour, I’d still be a cocktail waitress in Akron, Ohio”.
    In zijn artikel kondigde Seymour nog wat nieuwe groepen aan waarvan de platen bij Sire zouden gaan verschijnen: Madness, Echo & the Bunnymen en Matchbox.
 
 
415 7 Pretenders op SirePretenders op Sire
 
 
Een Amerikaan, als joods jongetje grootgebracht en geïnspireerd door de muziek van Little Richard, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, doo-wop en andere zwarte muziek, was met groepen als de Ramones, Talking Heads en Pretenders rond 1980 dominant aanwezig in de internationale scene van dat moment. 
    Stein: “My love affair with England has been going on for over 20 years, but it is as fresh and exciting as ever. The music is better and more diversified with new labels and artists appearing on the scene each week. On average, I am in London one week in four or five and invariably each time I return I discover something new and exciting”.
 
 
Madonna
 
 
In de jaren tachtig verdwenen veel muziekliefhebbers uit de business. Meer en meer werden ze verdrongen door advocaten en accountants – zonder een emotionele band met hun artiesten. Seymour Stein, een echte liefhebber, bleef echter steeds een oor (en oog) houden voor wat er ‘op straat’ gaande was.
 
In 1986 plaatste Michael Goldberg een artikel met en over hem in Rolling Stone. Daarin schreef hij: “More often than not, Stein signed bands that other American labels hadn’t even heard of, let alone expressed an interest in.
    ‘It’s my training’, says Stein. ‘I had the experience of seeing the futility of competing head-on with the major labels for the big groups. The truth is, no one else wanted the bands I signed. If Capitol Records had wanted the Ramones when I wanted them, they could have blown me out of the water’.
   But by avoiding bidding wars for big-name bands, Stein has managed to keep Sire on the cutting edge. ‘The reason we’re ahead of our time is that I have never signed a band that has already acquired success.
   I mean, I’m not in the banking business. I’m in the music business. We have to be at the edge, rightly or wrongly at the edge. You can be at the edge and be wrong, too, you know, and then you fall off. But if you only sign new acts, you’re at the edge’”.
 
Met deze instelling contracteerde Seymour in 1982 een nieuw iemand: Madonna. De artieste en de platenbaas ontmoetten elkaar voor het eerst in een ziekenhuis in New York. De joodse ondernemer werkte gewoon door.
   Stein: “The minute I heard her demo tape, I knew she was special. So I called her up and asked her to come and see me in the hospital. The minute she walked in the room, I knew. I just sensed that there was something there. I just wanted to rush right in and do a deal”.
   Madonna: “I had this idea that I was going to meet some really sort of cold person in a suit and a tie. And here Seymour was wearing boxer shorts and goofing around in his hospital room. He had a big ghetto blaster sitting on the window sill. He played my songs right while I was there, in front of me, and was raving, ‘It’s great, it’s great’. Talking a mile a minute. Basically, I thought the guy was nuts. But he liked my music, so I wasn’t going to complain”.
 
 
415 8 Madonna Seymour SteinMadonna en Seymour Stein
 
 
Terugblik
 
 
Seymour Stein bleef een muziekliefhebber en een zakenman. Gijsbert Kamer schreef in de Volkskrant: Nog steeds zoekt hij naar nieuwe muziek, zoals komend weekend op Noorderslag. Elke morgen loopt Seymour Stein (74) nog, met wandelstok, naar zijn kantoor op Broadway. Een paar blokken slechts is het pand van Warner Music in New York van zijn huis verwijderd. ‘Ik hoef niet meer te werken hoor, maar ik doe nu eenmaal niets liever’.
   Het werkkamertje van waaruit hij zijn Sire Records beheert, is gevuld met posters, boeken en foto’s van Madonna, de Ramones en andere artiesten die Stein groot heeft gemaakt”.
 
In augustus 2018, twee jaar geleden, praatte Michael Hann met hem. “He is one of the last old record guys – the kind who came up when rock ’n’ roll was the thing, who worked in the Brill Building, who talks about songs and records rather than streams and monetisation. The kind of guy who signed the Ramones and Madonna.
   His conversation is littered with the names of old labels and the men who ran them, the stanzas of a romance that is now dusty and forgotten. King, Chess, Imperial; Don Robey, Art Rupe, Lew Chudd. ‘Lew had, in my opinion, the greatest man in rhythm and blues at the time, Fats Domino. He had one of the greatest country artists: Slim Whitman. And he had one of the first rock ’n’ roll teen idols: Ricky Nelson. What a spread!’”
 
De popjournalist vroeg Seymour hoe hij zich al die tijd had kunnen handhaven.
   Zijn antwoord: “Ears. Ears are very important. If you don’t have them, you better hire someone who does. And there are some record companies where the heads of whom are not the ear people. The business people may have been fortunate to get the right people around them. I was never like that because I could never afford them. I had to do all of it. I don’t think I’m a bad businessman, and I may not be the greatest A&R man, but I think it’s my ears that got me through”.
 
Tijdens het interview keek Stein nog eens terug op wat hij in zijn leven allemaal gedaan had.
   Natuurlijk werd er gepraat over de zangeres van hits als ‘Like a virgin’. “His greatest commercial success was Madonna, whom he signed from his hospital bed in 1982, while being treated for the heart condition subacute endocarditis. ‘She was a study. I could see how ambitious she was. How strong she was.
   People ask me: ‘Did you know she was going to be ‘Madonna’? Of course, I didn’t know how big she was gonna be, but I knew she was gonna go pretty far. I’ve never met anyone like her in my whole life. I believed in her and I wrestled to get her signed very, very quickly’”.
 
Maar Focus werd niet vergeten. “Sire had hits largely by licensing records from Europe that no other American label was interested in, striking gold by picking up the rights for the entire world – bar Holland – for Focus’s bizarre yodelling prog-rock song ‘Hocus Pocus’, which became a worldwide hit in 1973.
   He had wanted to release a record by Jan Akkerman, but EMI’s Dutch outpost told Stein: ‘He’s joined his old band Focus. They’re not doing very much, they don’t have a deal, they’re playing the background for Hair’”.
   Seymour Stein in 2018: “I jumped on a plane and I met them and I signed them. That became my first million-selling album. Without that, we might not have been around a few years later”.
   Focus had een belangrijker rol voor hem gespeeld dan je – achteraf – zou denken…
 
 
415 9 Stein zijn ouders en echtgenote LindaSeymour Stein met ouders en echtgenote Linda
 
 
Harry Knipschild
30 december 2020
 
Clips
 
 
Literatuur
 
Seymour Stein, ‘Root forms – country & blues’, Billboard, 27 december 1969
Seymour Stein, ‘Sire Records expands through its lengthy involvement with the British music scene’, Cashbox, 15 maart 1980
Michael Goldberg, ‘Seymour Stein, the sultan of Sire’, Rolling Stone, 9 oktober 1986
‘Sire’s Stein: still a reigning champion of music’, Reuters, 8 maart 2008
Ian Youngs, ‘The man who signed Madonna’, BBC, 9 oktober 2008
Dana Kessler, ‘Seymour Stein, record company man who signed the Ramones and Madonna’, Tablet, 25 juli 2013
Gijsbert Kamer, ‘Platenbaas Seymour Stein, een oor voor goede liedjes’, Volkskrant, 12 januari 2017
Michael Hann, ‘Seymour Stein, the man who signed Madonna’, Guardian, 1 augustus 2018