Singer-songwriter, former Billboard publisher and veteran executive Tommy Page died March 3 at age 46. He is remembered by his longtime friend, Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein, who signed him to the label in 1988.
I first met Tommy Page on a grand night for Sire: the New York premiere of Madonna's Who's That Girl film in 1987. Afterward, several of us headed downtown to Nell's, which had become a hotspot for the music business and art crowds. The coat-check boy was Tommy Page.
Somehow he recognized me and said, "Seymour Stein, I've been waiting to meet you all my life!" He looked so young - he was 17 at the time - and admittedly, I was a bit tipsy, so I replied, "Well, that can't be a very long time!"
A month or two later, he sang a few things for me and I signed him to Sire. His big break came in 1990, when he collaborated with New Kids on the Block on "I'll Be Your Everything." The single reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 - a dream come true for Tommy. I believe the tune could be a standard.
His subsequent releases did very well in Asia, although less so in the rest of world. At one point in 1990, Sire had the two biggest records in Hong Kong: Tommy at No. 1 and Madonna's "Sooner or Later" at No. 2.
When [veteran Warner Bros. executive] Russ Thyret met Tommy as an artist, he said he was so sharp that if he ever wanted to work in the business, he would give him a job. After Tommy graduated from New York University's Stern School of Business, that's exactly what happened. Tommy became a great promotion and A&R executive, in part because he understood so well the needs and aspirations of new artists, and was far more able than most to assess their talent.
Tommy and I stayed close, and I watched him go from success to success. He left Warner Bros. to become Billboard's associate publisher, and within a year he was promoted to publisher - I was so pleased that it was Tommy who presented me with the first Billboard Industry Icon Award in 2012. He went on to top posts at Pandora, Cumulus and Village Voice Media, and continued to tour and record.
One thing nearly everyone who knew him said about Tommy was that he made them feel special, that they were the only person in the room, and that's just one reason why so many people adored him. I am devastated at the loss of this dear friend and send my heartfelt condolences to his partner, Charlie; their children, Owen, Alden and Ruby; and to their many friends.