Seymour Stein on Morrissey and Johnny Marr in Times interview

[originally posted in the thread Seymour Stein book "Siren Song" includes The Smiths]

An interview with Stein from the Times of London -

Seymour Stein: the man who signed Madonna (and the rest) - The Times (paywall)
The US pop mogul used Concorde to see English bands and Elton John used his spare room. Sarfraz Manzoor meets the king of Eighties pop

Excerpt:

Two years after signing Depeche Mode, Stein received a phone call from Geoff Travis, who founded the Rough Trade record store and ran a record label of the same name. "He said, 'I have just seen this band and I am so in love with them,' " Stein says. "He then said, 'The only thing I can tell you is that I believe you will love them even more than I do.' " The band were playing in two days' time, so Stein again hopped on Concorde, this time to London, and went to the ICA in London to see the Smiths. Stein describes Morrissey, the band's singer, as "one of the greatest artists I have ever worked with", but he also writes that he "wondered if maybe Morrissey harboured a deep unrequited love for Johnny Marr". What made you write that, I ask. "I do have that feeling," he says. "I could tell. I am pretty sure of it. I could see it and to tell you the truth I felt sorry for both of them because I didn't think Johnny was gay - and he wasn't - and I could feel for Morrissey."

Here's the text for those who can't access the article:

Seymour Stein, the man who signed Madonna (and the rest);
The US music mogul helped to launch the career of Talking Heads, while Elton John stayed in his spare room.

Sarfraz Manzoor meets the king of Eighties pop


It was the summer of 1982 and Seymour Stein was in a New York hospital recovering from an infection. The 40-year-old boss of Sire Records was listening to a demo sent by a friend. Mark Kamins was a New York DJ who had been badgering Stein to let him produce a record. "I thought he had great potential," Stein says, "so I gave him $18,000 to do six demos."

It was the third of those demos that Stein listened to in hospital - a track called Everybody by a young woman who called herself Madonna. "This girl knocked me off my feet," he says (presumably he wasn't lying down at this stage). He rang Kamins and said he wanted to meet Madonna that evening. "I was worried that someone else would sign her," he says. When Madonna arrived at the hospital they agreed on a record deal there and then. "Whoever got Madonna would have success with her," Stein says, "but I was the first to spot her and appreciate her."

It is early evening in Rough Trade East, a record store in east London, and I am talking to Stein before an appearance at the store to promote his memoir, Siren Song. He is 76 and somewhat unsure on his feet - he walks with a stick and is helped to his seat by his daughter, Mandy - but his reputation as one of the greatest music men in history is assured. This is the man who not only launched the careers of Madonna, the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Pretenders, Ice-T and Seal, but also introduced the Cure, Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen and the Smiths to American audiences.

Stein's career spans the history of pop music, from working for Billboard magazine and clubbing in Studio 54 to being inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and he charts it in Siren Song. It begins in Forties Brooklyn when, as a small boy, he would write down the names of the songs he heard in the weekly chart countdown. Aged 14 he was hired by Billboard to work after school and during the holidays. Later he was headhunted by the record label boss Syd Nathan, who asked Stein, then barely 20, to go on the road with James Brown. "Syd wanted me to keep James out of trouble," he says. "James really liked me. He was very smart, but he was very tough with his band."

Stein co-founded Sire Records in 1966 and by then had started visiting Britain. One night in February 1967 he was in a London club called Middle Earth with Linda Keith, who was dating Keith Richards. Linda Keith told him that a friend of hers was playing - he turned out to be Jimi Hendrix. "What I most remember about that night was that Jimi took his guitar, which I knew belonged to Keith Richards, and broke it into smithereens," Stein says. The guitar did not survive the concert and nor, when she later told her boyfriend, did Linda Keith's relationship with Keith Richards.

On another trip to London Stein met a young EMI staffer, John Reid, who introduced him to his new lover, a musician named Reg Dwight.

Dwight would change his name to Elton John and became a global superstar; he and Stein remained friends. "Elton found staying in hotels annoying," Stein says, "so when he came to New York he would stay in my spare room." On Thanksgiving Day in 1974, before they were due to play Madison Square Garden, Elton and his band visited Stein's apartment with John Lennon, who was to be their special guest at the concert. "Elton was so excited because he idolised John Lennon," Stein says. Everyone ate turkey and pumpkin pie before Lennon asked for silence as he handed Elton a present - it was a gleaming cock ring.

By the mid-Seventies Sire was on its way to becoming one of the music industry's most influential record labels and gaining a reputation for championing punk and new wave - a term that Stein popularised - with acts such as the Ramones and Talking Heads.

Stein's love of British music kept him involved with the music scene across the Atlantic. In the early hours of April 28, 1981, he was flicking through the NME when he came across an article profiling a new English pop group. They seemed worth checking out, but there was a problem: they were playing in Basildon that night and Stein was in New York. "I called up at 6.30 in the morning and asked how much was the Concorde to London for that day," he says. "It was $8,000." Stein flew into Heathrow and was driven to a Basildon nightclub called Sweeneys where he saw the band play. He signed them. Depeche Mode went on to sell more than 100 million records and still fill stadiums around the world.

Two years after signing Depeche Mode, Stein received a phone call from Geoff Travis, who founded the Rough Trade record store and ran a record label of the same name. "He said, 'I have just seen this band and I am so in love with them,' " Stein says. "He then said, 'The only thing I can tell you is that I believe you will love them even more than I do.' " The band were playing in two days' time, so Stein again hopped on Concorde, this time to London, and went to the ICA in London to see the Smiths. Stein describes Morrissey, the band's singer, as "one of the greatest artists I have ever worked with", but he also writes that he "wondered if maybe Morrissey harboured a deep unrequited love for Johnny Marr". What made you write that, I ask. "I do have that feeling," he says. "I could tell. I am pretty sure of it. I could see it and to tell you the truth I felt sorry for both of them because I didn't think Johnny was gay - and he wasn't - and I could feel for Morrissey."

Stein knew he was gay since he was a teenager, but the cultural pressures of his Jewish background - which stressed the importance of marriage and children - led him to date women while also secretly having gay encounters. On his first date with Linda Adler, in early 1971, they ended up sleeping together. He later opened up to her about his sexuality and in Siren Song he describes how, on learning that her boyfriend was gay, Adler "fell into silent shock for about ten minutes ... then erupted into wails of 'No! No! No!', while punching her own head with two clenched fists". All of which makes it surprising that, later that year, the couple married and went on to have two daughters.

Stein also relates a story about a time he met a man with whom he had "the most powerful sex I'd ever experienced". His wife found out, lured the man to a hotel and told him that unless he had sex with her she would tell all of New York that he was gay. The man did what he was told and later she returned to Stein and said, "Do you know who I f***ed, Seymour? I'll give you one guess."

"Linda knew how to get back at me," Stein says. "She did it to hurt me."

Linda was murdered in 2007, bludgeoned to death by her personal assistant. In 2013 Stein's daughter, Samantha, died of brain cancer, aged 40. In his book Stein refers to himself as "the world's most absent father". Do you regret that, I ask. "I have guilt about that," he says. "I could have been a better father. I could have been a better husband, but I had no choice. The main thing in my life was music and this came first."

Stein has been in the music business for more than six decades and still travels the globe in search of the next Morrissey and the next Madonna. Madonna turns 60 next month and when I ask Stein the secret of her longevity, he looks at me as if I have lost my mind. "Isn't it obvious? She is one of the smartest and most talented people. She is very, very, very special."

Many of the artists Stein has signed are rightly recognised as very special, even geniuses, but it takes a certain gift to be able to consistently identify and champion talent. If Stein is a genius, then he is a modest one. "I don't have easily definable skills or talents," he says. "I have ears. I am a fan, I love music and always have."

Siren Song: My Life in Music by Seymour Stein is published by St Martin's Press, £22.99



Stein at Rough Trade record shop in London
JOONEY WOODWARD FOR THE TIMES
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Comments

Well, Seymour's made these claims before and there's been much discussion for and against it here. Morrissey has denied it and even if true I wouldn't expect him to publically divulge it ... so it's sort of going down the road of pointless speculation, IMO.
 
V
Well, Seymour's made these claims before and there's been much discussion for and against it here. Morrissey has denied it and even if true I wouldn't expect him to publically divulge it ... so it's sort of going down the road of pointless speculation, IMO.
Moz has never been into GIRLY types like DramaJ, pre robot:handpointright::guardsman::handpointleft: look.
:isakayalantern:
 
A
Moz has never been into GIRLY types like DramaJ, pre robot:handpointright::guardsman::handpointleft: look.
:isakayalantern:
What the fuck do you know about what Morrissey is “into”? Your perpetual tongue-wagging and lapping up his ass doesn’t make you a source.

I’ll take Johnny fuckin’ Marr’s ethic, musicality, styling and full head of hair over Morrissey’s trudging, graceless balding, weak-kneed, pussy-ass, frozen-food aisle, “poor-me”, bitter grandpa bullshit any day.

Only reason Moz hasn’t come out publicly and found a partner he ‘s proud to be seen with is because he’s never transcended Marr’s rejection. He’s surrounded himself with sycophants for the past 30 years. The only one that’s stuck by him for love is his mother. ...and she’s been an absolute failure in her ability to raise a half-decent human being, hasn’t she? He’s not a man. He’s a fucking toddler.

The only way Steve-O manages to avoid the solitary existence he claims to love - but so obviously loathes - is by surrounding himself with cut-rate, paid musical lackey losers who he strings along from cancellation to cancellation.

Dust off your mom’s laptop screen and make a small effort to digest the obvious truth that lies in front of your half-baked, troll-ass face, pizda. ;)
 
A
One song "Forgive Someone" so hints at something...would love if any journalist had guts to ask if has heard it....I think Comet is ok but nowhere in the same league as LIHS and Johnny has had a really easy ride from the press this time round
 
Well, if he did or imagined he did, maybe it’s what helped him write so many awesome songs involving unrequited love. Either way, truth is, I really don’t care. The results are what matter and the Smiths were the greatest band ever, end of discussion for me.
 
A
What the fuck do you know about what Morrissey is “into”? Your perpetual tongue-wagging and lapping up his ass doesn’t make you a source.

I’ll take Johnny fuckin’ Marr’s ethic, musicality, styling and full head of hair over Morrissey’s trudging, graceless balding, weak-kneed, pussy-ass, frozen-food aisle, “poor-me”, bitter grandpa bullshit any day.

Only reason Moz hasn’t come out publicly and found a partner he ‘s proud to be seen with is because he’s never transcended Marr’s rejection. He’s surrounded himself with sycophants for the past 30 years. The only one that’s stuck by him for love is his mother. ...and she’s been an absolute failure in her ability to raise a half-decent human being, hasn’t she? He’s not a man. He’s a fucking toddler.

The only way Steve-O manages to avoid the solitary existence he claims to love - but so obviously loathes - is by surrounding himself with cut-rate, paid musical lackey losers who he strings along from cancellation to cancellation.

Dust off your mom’s laptop screen and make a small effort to digest the obvious truth that lies in front of your half-baked, troll-ass face, pizda. ;)
Johnny Marr wears a wig.
 
K
This story of looking for hints of Morrissey love for Marr in his lyrics sounds like a never ending Easter egg hunt. Funny game but not that relevant.
 
F
Oh, I think for Morrissey it was an obsession. I'm pretty sure Mike or Andy (or possibly both) have said this in interviews. I can only think how weird that must have been for Johnny.
Like Morrissey said, 'Johnny knocked on his door and he was rescued'. All those months languishing in his bedroom and suddenly given the opportunity to taste freedom and acclamation. It must have been hard not to feel something for him.
 
F
I always think of bromance as being a straight thing.

Being gay, I think Morrissey just fell hook, line and sinker.
Of course. I was forgetting what a bromance was.
 
Like Morrissey said, 'Johnny knocked on his door and he was rescued'. All those months languishing in his bedroom and suddenly given the opportunity to taste freedom and acclamation. It must have been hard not to feel something for him.
Yes, I hadn't really thought about it like that. He had invested everything in him. The fact that he was quite cute probably made it all inevitable.

Personally, whenever the conversation on here veers towards the 'Morrissey in love with Johnny' topic, I find myself seeking out the fabulous 'Inaccurate Smiths Quotes' site - all completely made up, but vastly more entertaining than our own speculation. http://inaccuratesmithsquotes.tumblr.com/

My own personal favourite:
"One time, Morrissey was being a little bitch, so I put toothpaste in his Oreos. He cried."
- Johnny Marr
 
Like Morrissey said, 'Johnny knocked on his door and he was rescued'. All those months languishing in his bedroom and suddenly given the opportunity to taste freedom and acclamation. It must have been hard not to feel something for him.
The following is from "The Enduring Saga of the Smiths" by Tony Fletcher:

“There developed, undoubtedly, something much more than a friendship, but rather a love between them such as can often be found on the battlefield, occasionally on the sporting field, and which, when evident in a rock group, inevitably fuels the flames of something erotic. Both Morrissey and Marr would occasionally invite such speculation, inadvertently or otherwise. “I was so utterly impressed and infatuated”, said the singer not long after the partnership dissolved*, using a highly charged word, “that even if he couldn’t play it wouldn’t have mattered, because the seeds had been sown and from those seeds anything could sprout. He appeared at a time when I was deeper than the depths…he provided me with this massive energy boost.”

*Fletcher is wrong about the date – this interview was in ’84 not after the split.
 
A
The guy from The The already said Johnny told him that Moz was obsessed with Johnny.
Moz's hairdresser friend is also the spitting image of Johnny, facial feature-wise not stylewise.
 

Trending Threads

Top Bottom