The Unknown King Records-Ramones Connection

Seymour Stein, founder of the fabled Punk-rock championing Sire Records, dedicates his new memoir to Cincinnati's Syd Nathan.

Jun 27, 2018 at 1:33 pm
click to enlarge Cover of Seymour Stein's new memoir, "Siren Song" - PHOTO: Provided
PHOTO: Provided
Cover of Seymour Stein's new memoir, "Siren Song"

Add another voice to those in the music business who are paying tribute to Cincinnati's King Records.

theRecently, touring musicians Jack White, Les Claypool and Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) all visited the aging Evanston buildings that once were home to the storied indie record company. (The city now owns the site.)

And now, Seymour Stein — the greatly admired record executive whose Sire Records label was an early champion of Punk by signing the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Dead Boys, Richard Hell and more in the mid-1970s, when most labels were scared of the movement — has chosen to make King's founder, Syd Nathan, one of the four people to whom he dedicates his new memoir, Siren Song. (The others are his two daughters, one of whom has passed away, and his Sire co-founder, Richard Gotteher.)

As a 15-year-old Brooklyn kid fascinated by the music business, Stein got his first break when Nathan brought him to Cincinnati in the 1950s to work at King and learn about the music business.

"Syd Nathan was far and away my greatest mentor," he writes. "The founder of King Records in Cincinnati, he was a music man through and through. Syd saw something in me, and it was that belief and the training and knowledge he passed on that saw me through, especially during those earliest and toughest years at Sire Records, and right up until today. 

"I've tried, throughout my career, to pass on what I have learned and mentor and help in any small way to ensure that great music men move forward and take on the responsibility as mentors to ensure the continued growth, importance, and success of music around the globe.

That, above all, was my main purpose in writing this book."