R.I.P. Mark Kamins, trendsetting New York DJ and collaborator with Madonna, David Byrne and more

Mark Kamins, the New York producer and DJ best known for helping his then-lover Madonna get signed to Sire Records in the early ’80s, has died.

Although news of Kamins’ death didn’t widely emerge until Friday evening, it’s been confirmed that he died on Thursday February 14, following a “massive coronary” in Guadalajara, Mexico [via BlackBook]. It’s been reported that he’d been suffering from heart problems for several months.

A resident DJ at New York club Danceteria, Kamins was known for an anything goes style to both selection and lifestyle – as Arthur Baker notes, in a tribute this weekend, “Mark played every kind of music… his use of Ofra Haza samples and jet blasts and sirens were risky, extreme and revolutionary. Visiting Mark in the DJ booth back then was fairly hectic – it often included shots and lines and then the chance of getting my new acetate or cassette a testing before one of New York City’s best audiences.”

As well as getting Madonna signed – as the Material Girl notes in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, “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” – Kamins contributed to records by Talking Heads’ David Byrne, Karen Finley, The Beastie Boys and more. Red Bull Music Academy’s Todd Burns has penned a tribute to Kamins for RBMA here.

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