k.d. lang was a buzzy singer-songwriter with just one independently released album under her belt (credited alongside her band The Reclines) when Sire Records founder Seymour Stein scouted her at a nightclub in her native Canada in 1985. Lang was snapped up by Stein that same night and went on to enjoy a run of successful albums with Sire, including 1987’s Angel With a Lariat (with The Reclines), 1988’s Shadowlands, 1989’s Absolute Torch and Twang (with The Reclines) and 1992’s RIAA double-platinum smash Ingénue, featuring the indelible hit single “Constant Craving,” for which lang earned the Grammy for best pop vocal performance, female the following year.
In remembrance of the man who launched her career, Lang penned a brief tribute to the late executive, who died April 2 at age 80, for Billboard. In it, she humorously recounts the night an apparently sleep-deprived Stein signed her — and changed her life forever.
When I began to perform my music in Canadian clubs almost 40 years ago, there was initial interest from a few record labels, but I remember being excited when I heard that Seymour Stein was going to fly up to see me. We made sure to reserve the best table in the club for him, but as showtime arrived there was no sign of him. Eventually, we went onstage to play.
A few songs into the set, a very rumpled-looking guy arrived at the reserved table, slumped into a chair, put his head on the table and fell asleep. I thought, “Well, I guess I’m not getting signed tonight!”
After the show, Seymour came backstage to meet me, and said he wanted to sign me to Sire.
That’s why I’ve always said that even when Seymour’s asleep, he still has the best ears in the business!
In all these years, I have not encountered anyone who has recognized, signed and supported more great artists than Seymour Stein.