Mark Kamins, the legendary, much-loved New York music producer and brilliant club deejay, whom we can thank for getting Madonna signed to Sire Records and producing her first single, “Everybody,” died Thursday of what has been said was a massive coronary, in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was teaching at the Fermatta Music Academy. Word is, he’d been struggling with heart problems for the last few months. Not much more is known at this time. He would have been 57 in April. In the early 1980s, both Kamins and Madonna were habitués of New York’s crazy, creative, festively debauched downtown club scene (now completely eradicated), headquartered mainly inside dance clubs like Danceteria and the Mudd Club, and the deejay, famous for playing his remixes of such artists of the time as Ofra Haza and Kajagoogoo, made the fledgling singer his project, eventually giving her demo to Sire Records head Seymour Stein, who immediately signed her – and the Material Girl was born. And Kamins became the first of Madonna’s many well-documented boyfriends. Later, the deejay worked as a mixer and collaborator with the likes of David Byrne, the Beastie Boys, Sinead O’Connor, and performance artist Karen Finley.
The Hollywood Reporter says that his “legacy is secure as a central figure of one of New York City’s most fertile and experimental periods in terms of music, clubbing, and lifestyle iconoclasm.” In a statement, Madonna wrote, “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.” Amen.