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Mark Kamins, DJ/Producer Who Discovered Madonna, Dead

Pioneering DJ and producer Mark Kamins, who was instrumental in facilitating the signing of Madonna to Sire Records in 1982, has died.

According to BlackBook, on Feb. 14, he suffered a massive coronary in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he has been teaching. A family source has confirmed Kamins’ death to Billboard. Word spread on Facebook, where many friends of the downtown New York City scenester posted remembrances. The particular poignancy of his passing is surely the marking of the chronology of those connected to the incipient development of the biggest musical star of our time — the mortality surrounding the cultural immortal that is the Queen of Pop.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Madonna writes: “I’m very sorry to hear about Mark’s death. I haven’t seen him for years but if it weren’t for him, I might not have had a singing career. He was the first DJ to play my demos before I had a record deal. He believed in me before anyone else did. I owe him a lot. May he Rest in Peace.”

Kamins, noted for always living his life in the grandest of fashions, had apparently been struggling with heart problems for some months previous.

Legend has it that he took the budding superstar and clubland habitue Madonna Ciccone under his wing, passing her demo on to Sire Records honcho Seymour Stein, who quickly signed her — the rest, of course, is pop history. Kamins, who also produced her nascent single “Everybody”, would be the first in a line of high-profile Madonna beaus, to be eventually usurped by the likes of Jellybean Benitez and, of course, many others. A significant talent in his own right, he went on to work with radical performance artist Karen Finley, as well as 80s musical giants such as David Byrne, the Beastie Boys and Sinead O’Connor.

Benitez wrote on Facebook: “So sad to learn of the passing of Mark Kamins … I will never forget the first time we met and how much we laughed. … I also loved watching and listening to you DJ at Danceteria … I never knew what you would play next … U are and will always be an inspiration to many … I will miss u … Rest in Peace my friend.”

Read more: Billboard

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