Sunday, August 10, 2014

RIP Henry Stone (TK Records)

Henry Stone presents George McCrae with a gold disc for Rock Your Baby, 1974

Via Miami Herald: Founder of the ‘Miami Sound,’ TK Records’ Henry Stone dies at 93

"Henry Stone, 93, died Thursday at Mercy Hospital of natural causes.

Stone’s career stretched back to post-war Los Angeles, where the Bronx-born trumpeter sold vinyl records to jukebox owners out of the trunk of his car.

In 1948, Stone moved to Miami where he set up Seminole, a record-distribution business and Crystal recording studio. Three years later, he recorded his first artist, a pianist-singer from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine who would soon gain world-wide fame as Ray Charles.

Charles’ St. Pete Florida Blues was cut here for Stone’s Rockin’ imprint. “I had heard of him through the grapevine, so I asked him to call me whenever he came to Miami, and he did,” Stone said in a 1995 Miami Herald profile.

As Stone started other small blues, gospel and R&B labels and began an association with King Records, he released Otis Williams and the Charms’ No. 1 R&B hit, Heart of Stone, in 1954. Stone was instrumental in signing James Brown and the Famous Flames to King where Brown scored his first hit,Please, Please, Please, which reached No. 6 R&B in 1956 ...

...Thirty years later, his most lucrative discovery also would be a rarity in the music business: a racially-integrated, crazy quilt conglomeration of Junkanoo, R&B, disco and pop called KC & the Sunshine Band.

On Friday, group co-founder Harry Wayne “KC” Casey, 63, called Stone his “mentor.” Casey was in his early 20s, working as a part-timer at the independent TK Records when he began hanging around the studios and recording snatches of music he heard when the bigger names cleared out after their sessions.

Casey cowrote Rock Your Baby with Richard Finch in 1974 and it became the songwriters’ first No. 1 pop single for TK when singer George McRae recorded the hit version. Legend has it in the pages of Frederic Dannen’s music industry book, Hit Men, McRae pulled a knife on Stone and threatened him for not paying him royalties. Stone reportedly handed the disgruntled singer a wad of bills and the keys to his Cadillac. His rented Cadillac.

True tale, or not, “Henry believed in me when no one else did,” Casey said.....

Read more here:

Read more here: When taste makers deemed disco dead as Donna Summer’s Bad Girls found religion and ‘80s synth-pop dominated pop airwaves, Stone weathered his losses. TK went bankrupt in 1981. But he never stopped founding new companies like The Legendary Henry Stone Presents… and Hot Productions, which had an off-beat hit in 1990 with novelty act 2 Live Jews and its album, As Kosher As They Wanna Be, a parody of 2 Live Crew that featured Stone’s actor, songwriter-producer son, Joseph Stone.
... Though his eyesight was failing in the end, Stone’s ears never failed him. “Up to the end this guy knew his music,” Joseph said. “My sister had brought some of his discs and we had some tracks playing as he was laying there and he was half out of it. But I see his hand come up in the air during one of the horn section parts, conducting it. I asked him, ‘Do you know what artist that is?’ He said, ‘Peter Brown. Come on. Do You Want to Get Funky With Me.’

“I always tell people this guy forgot more about the music business than most people will ever know.”

Read: Rock Your Baby: Henry Stone documentary coming 

ADDED Interview: Henry Stone on James Brown and Disco’s Boom and Bust, by Garth Cartwright

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