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Dec 122013
 
Producer Wiliie Clarke, TK Productions' Henry Stone, and the legendary Pollard Syndrum

Producer Wiliie Clarke, TK Productions’ Henry Stone, and the legendary Pollard Syndrum

Willie clarke was here the other day. Boy, he is the funniest little guy. We got into reliving the whole “Ring My Bell” record, which was all put together in TK Studios yaknow.

The producer on the song is Frederick Knight. He was working with the singer Anita Ward, and Willie Clarke engineered the original instrumental with The Wisdom Band. “I worked with Wisdom a whole lot,” he remembers, “they were real funky, man.”

Willie, says it ended up that he hadda go on the road or something with Betty Wright and that a guy named Wizard ran off with the tape. Wizard was a sort of promo man or radio somethin’ or other. He was a hangaround guy, always hangin’ around the studio.

Me, I was at my New York office on 54th street in Manhattan. Me and Allen Grubman was up there makin’ deals and I would be back and forth to Miami checkin on the music and doin what I hadda do.

Willie claims that it was his idea to put that electronic drum sound in the track. He says nobody wanted to use it, but when the song hit everybody else wanted to take credit for it. “I can’t sleep at night,” he says now, “I should have 50% of that.”

I never seen a record move so fast. Within 3 or 4 weeks of bein’ out it was number one on the Billboard charts.

That electronic “dooooo!” is the sound made by the Syndrum. Willie Clarke still has it to this day. It’s made by Pollard, and it was the first ever electronic drum.

He says “I used it on a lot of things that I cut.” It was part of the whole TK sound.

Dec 032013
 
The Paradise Garage

The Paradise Garage

I remember when the dance club DJs first started in New York City. It was in the 1970s when I hired Ray Caviano to promote my TK Disco 12″‘s. He was in charge of basically the New York office. And he got all my new music played in all the hottest New York nightclubs. Let’s call him now, he’ll give you the whole history 

(Henry dials the phone)

Ray Caviano: Hello? Heeeenry Stooooneeeee!

Henry Stone: Hey, Ray Caviano, just the man I wanteda talk to! We’re gonna do a blog on the original DJs from New York….

Ray Caviano: Well some of the main guys were Jim Burgess, Roy Thode aka The Saint, Richie Kaczor from Studio 54, Richie Rivera, Larry Levan from Paradise Garage. And Bobby DJ, he was one of the originals. These were some of the main guys at the original New York dance clubs in the 1970′s.
 
Larry Levan was the man of the scene of the Paradise Garage. He perfected the sound. He was very responsible for breaking dance music in the city. The Paradise Garage was the most exclusive club. All the radio power players were there to see what was breaking on the dance floor. Just anybody couldn’t walk in there. It was a very private, very special place. And they didn’t serve liquor.
 
It was about 1977 that it opened, and it really set the trend until the early 80′s.

There was also David Mancuso, who started a club called The Loft, which was around before The Paradise Garage. David was one of the key people that started private dance parties in the New York area. He was tight with Judy Weinstein who was very important with her For The Record record pool. She serviced about 150 DJ’s, and she always got 150 copies of each new TK Disco release.
 
I was there.


 
I would do the whole circuit with all the new TK Disco records. Four or five clubs a night, just about every night of the week.

I was a VIP everywhere I went, fuhgettaboutit. Most people could never ever get in to Studio 54, but I walked right in anytime I wanted, straight to the DJ, who would always smile when they saw me cause they knew I had that new TK Disco for them to play.

We were the hottest in the game.
 
I first met and was recruited by Henry Stone through our mutual friend Allen Grubman. I was working on other records for him, dance records. Me and Tommy Mottola. Songs like “Turn The Beat Around” by Vicky Sue Robinson. Allen Grubman introduced me to Henry Stone and the rest is history.
 
Nowadays radio doesn’t play new music. Back then, clubs were the testing ground for all new potential hits in the market. Hot club songs became hot radio songs became hit records. That doesn’t exist anymore the way it did.
 
But for the club DJ’s, it’s the same formula: make sure everybody is dancing and having a good time. The culture of the DJ and the essence is still the same. That party energy, that excitement is the same. And people are still dancing and celebrating. The experience is the same, there’s just new technology. It’s totally different, but it’s fundamentally the same.

Nov 212013
 

Be a Part of Music History with Henry Stone

Hello to all our fans and friends,

Attention, any and all visitors to the old TK Productions, Tone Distributors and TK Studios in Hialeah, Florida. People from around the world made the trip to visit us in the 1970’s to see where this music that was changing the world was coming from.

We are searching for photographs, film footage, original tapes and ephemeral items (contracts, notes, letters, etc).

ephemera2

A documentary film is currently in production about the Miami Sound, TK Productions, and Henry Stone the man behind it, titled Rock Your Baby.”

We are asking people to dig deep into their personal archives for any images and ephemera from this magical time in music history. If you know anyone who might have some of this history, please share this with them. All items will be returned, if so desired.

If you have photographs, film footage or ephemeral items from TK Productions, Tone Distributors, or the artists and staff involved, please contact us here.

Thank you very much!

Nov 132013
 

When Steve Alaimo was in college he had a band called the Redcoats. Around that time, he started hangin’ around with me as a promotion man, sort of a hangaround guy, and I’d take him up to Ernie Busker’s place, the Palms Of Hallandale to see BB King and James Brown. I think it really influenced his sound and the way he sung and the way he performed. Man, Steve was great on stage.

Later I got him on as the opener for James Brown for a stadium show in Miami, and after the gig James said to me “Don’t ever let that whiteboy on before me again.” That’s how good Steve was. James didn’t want him stealing any of his thunder.

When he was first starting out he played rooms like The Eden Roc on Miami Beach and later the big room at the Diplomat Hotel. He was doing standards, show tunes, good ol music, yaknow…music.

William Morris was the first agency to handle him and one of his first agents was Famous Amos. That’s what he did before the cookies, he was Steve’s talent agent at the William Morris Agency.

I’d say that Steve was really the first blue eyed soul singer to come along yaknow.

Sincerely,

Henry Stone

Sep 102013
 

The Bee Gees at Middle Ear Studios. Photo by Dick Ashb

This is Henry Stone: “My Bee Gees connection, my real tight connection was that I owned their recording studio. First I leased it to them, and then I sold them the building that they built Middle Ear Recording Studios in. I owned it. Right there on Miami Beach.

“When they first got here they were working at Mac Emmerman’ Criteria studios in North Miami. The Bee Gees did all their recording here.

“And the building I sold them, Middle Ear, that was the studio they recorded every day. Not only themselves, but they also recorded Michael Jackson, and Barbara Streisand there.

“The Bee Gees and I knew of each other because of Saturday Night Fever. We both had tracks on there. We’d had conversations before. We were familiar with each other. So I leased ‘em the building that I owned across the street from my accountant’s office. Last I checked, the building was still there.

“I remember one time I brought my wife Inez over there to meet everybody, and it wasn’t Barry, I don’t think it was Maurice, but she says to one of the Gibb brothers “Who are you?”

So many deals…Billions went through my hands……

Aug 122013
 
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Steve Alaimo and Henry Stone in 2013

Steve Alaimo once outperformed James Brown as his opener at a Miami stadium show. James Brown went backstage and told Henry Stone, “Don’t you ever let that whiteboy on before me ever again!”

Steve Alaimo Henry Stone

Steve Alaimo and Henry Stone at a party

Alaimo has been with Henry Stone since he was a University of Miami student playing in a college band called The Redcoats. He played weekend hops (which is what the dances were called at the time), sang in lounges, wrote and recorded music, managed acts, worked in TV, A&R’d, promoted records, engineered, produced, toured, and eventually became VP of TK Productions, the largest independent record company in the world throughout the 1970′s.

He also helped discover Sam & Dave (“Hold On, I’m Comin’”, “Soul Man”) one of the top selling and charting duos in the history of recorded music. Most people don’t know that they formed in and began on the Miami talent show circuit. Here are some of Alaimo’s recollections on their early days.

“I found Sam & Dave at the King of Hearts Club in Liberty City. I sang at King of Hearts too, in fact Sam and Dave were my opening act. They opened up the show and I came on next. Man, that was great in those days.”

Shop For Twist With Steve Alaimo on Henry Stone Music

“Put it this way, my dressing room was John Lomelo’s office. He was the club’s owner. And in the door, there were bullet holes in it. So when you dressed, the people were lookin’ in through the bullet holes.

Daily Sun Steve Alaimo Ad 11-26-61

Daily Sun Steve Alaimo Ad November 26, 1961

There was an office in the back. The crowd was in the front. and the stage was a small riser, and the stage was a dance floor, so you sang on the dance floor if you were an act. If you were a band then you got on the riser, which was only about a foot high.

Those crowds were great. They knew how to appreciate everything. If you were good, they liked ya. If you weren’t, they didn’t make any bones about it.”

Shop for Steve Alaimo 50′s – 70′s Double CD on Henry Stone Music

“John Lomelo ended up being the mayor of Sunrise. Went to jail for some kind of bullshit. Big white guy. Big burly guy, and he was Sam and Dave’s manager cause he said “I’m your manager.” A tough guy. While he was mayor he went and got arrested, went to jail, came out of jail, and they made him mayor again. They didn’t care because there was no crime in Sunrise. He didn’t take no shit.”

“Back to Sam & Dave. First, I made their records for Henry Stone on Marlin Records, and then we put them with Roulette Records in New York, and put two or three records out, “No More Pain” and a bunch of those things. I wrote their first song, “No More Pain.” Then I went to California to do the show “Where the Action Is” with Dick Clarke on ABC. Henry sent Sam & Dave to Stax….called up Atlantic and Atlantic didn’t do anything with them, so Atlantic sent them to STAX, where Isaac Hayes and David Porter started producing them. And the rest is history.”

Aug 082013
 

eltonjohn001Henry Stone: I was in Cannes, France at a convention called MIDEM in the 1970s. At the time I was huge in France, a real red carpet guy at the height of the disco boom. I was there in the casino with my wife Inez and Russ Regan. I’ve known Russ since the beginning of time in the music business. He’s more of a Californian. But I know Russ cause I distributed his records. He was president of a major label, and he’d had Barry White, “Kung Fu Fighting,” The Beach Boys, Sinatra, lots of stuff, very important guy. Anyway, Russ and I were in the casino at the craps table or something, or, actually, they didn’t have craps there, they had roulette. So me and Russ Regan are at the roulette wheel and Elton John came over to say hello to him yaknow, Russ was instrumental in breaking Elton John with his first hit record when he was president of MCA’s Uni Records. So he tells Elton, “Hey man I want you to meet Henry Stone,” and Elton John said, “Henry Stone! Man I got all your records, I’m a record collector!” I say “Great, man, nice to meet ya. Come say hi to my wife.”

So we go over to the table where my wife Inez was sitting with Yvette Grubman, Allen Grubman’s wife. Allen’s been everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Michael Jackson’s lawyer. I was his first client ever. They were sitting at the table and I went over to introduce Elton John to Inez yaknow, so he comes over the table and she’s sitting there with Yvette. She turns around, and she looks at Elton John, and he looked like a waiter, and she said “I’ll have a scotch and soda please.” Hahahahahaha. I said “Inez, this is Elton John.” And we all had a laugh.

So we go back to gambling at the roulette table, Elton, Russ, and myself, and a little while later Inez comes over. So Elton’s got these glasses on right? The big famous Elton John glasses yaknow. And she takes em’ right off his face and says, “What beautiful glasses!” He says, “I can’t see! Gimme my glasses!” Yaknow.

Man, that was a funny bit, man.

Aug 072013
 
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Ray Charles in 1968. Photo by Eric Koch via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Stone: My first studio here in Miami was back in 1948 or ’49 on Flagler street, first little funky studio. Actually it was the warehouse for my first distributing company where I had a piano and a tape machine in the back

Who’d you record there?

Henry Stone: A guy by the name of Ray Charles. I heard abut Ray when I was in Jacksonville, FL. He was at the school for the blind in St Augustine. I heard about him, and that he was very, very good. I guess he left and went to California, but in about 1949 he came down to Miami to do a gig. I met him at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel in Overtown. I hadda go see Sam Cooke, who was a very good friend of mine because I’d been distributing his records, and Sam introduced me to Ray at the bar.


I said “Hey, I heard about you up in Jacksonville, man. I heard you’re pretty cool.”

He said “Great, I wanna cut some sides. I need some bread.”

I says “Come on over. I got a studio in the back of my distribution place on Flagler Street.”

So he came over to the studio in the back of my warehouse and we cut 4 sides. When Ray came in he started singing just like Nat King Cole.

I said, “Hey, Ray I want you to sing some blues man, cause I’m more into the blues,” I said, “I know you can do a blues song, man.”

So we did “St. Pete Florida Blues,” a song called “Walkin And Talkin,” and a couple other things. I gave him $200 and, I feel I can say this now that the movie about him came out, he took the money and immediately bought some heroin.

I put the sides out on my Rockin’ label, and I leased a couple tracks to my buddy Bob Shad for his Sittin’ In With label, and yaknow, they did alright, nothin’ special. You gotta remember, at that time he was just another musician. He wasn’t yet the Ray Charles like you know him today.

Shop for Ray Charles on Henry Stone Music

After that, I had this relationship with him through the years yaknow as his distributor. I broke all his records here in Florida. And I was almost instrumental in putting him on Atlantic Records. I say almost because there’s no documents of it, but Jerry Wexler (from Atlantic) was very hip, and he knew that I knew Ray Charles.

He called me up one day and said, “Hey, Henry we’re looking for Ray Charles. We’d like to record him. You know how to find him?”

I said, “Last I knew of him he was in St Pete.”

So Jerry contacted Ray Charles, Atlantic Records signed him, and the rest is history.

Aug 062013
 
henrystoneandjamesbrown1

James Brown and Henry Stone, buddies and pals

It was about 1955. I got a call from Syd Nathan, the president of King Records up in Cincinatti. He said, “Henry, there’s an artist up in Macon, Georgia named James Brown. You should check him out and sign him to DeLuxe Records.

Then he called up Ralph Bass who also worked for him and told him the same thing. Ralph happened to be in Birmingham, Alabama takin’ care of some business at the time, so he beat me to Macon by about a day and signed James Brown to the King subsidiary Federal Records. They ended up recording “Please, Please, Please,” which of course became a million seller.

Shop for James Brown’s “Family Affair” on Henry Stone Music

So I get there a day later, and I met James, and he just knocked me over…just his whole attitude, everything, I saw him perform with Bobby Byrd at the time his group the Flames and I knew he was gonna be a star.

jamesbrownPleasePleasePleaseI said, “Man, listen, this is it, I’m gonna take your record out on the road with me while I’m promoting my DeLuxe label. I’ll make this a big hit for you James.”

I’ll tell ya one thing about James Brown, he never forgot one word anybody ever said about him, good or bad.

I went on the road and started hitting radio stations with my records, and his “Please Please Please,” and then I called Ernie Busker at the Million Dollar Palms, this little club in Hallandale, just outside Miami. We were buddies. He knew I had my ear to the ground all the time.

I told Ernie “Look there’s a guy up in Georgia, his record’s busting wide open, “Please Please Please,” you can get him down here for $500 bucks. So I got James down for $500 dollars, he worked the hell out of the Palms of Hallandale, and forget it, that weekend, after the first night, you couldn’t get near that place. That’s how packed it was.

Ernie said, “Wow! Fantastic. I’d like to get him back.” So I says, “Sure. Gimme about 3 thousand bucks and I can get him back.” He says “Really?” I says “Yeah, I’ll talk to him.” So I’m not sure the exact amount, if it was 3 or 4, but it was several thousand bucks he gave me. I gave it to James. I says, “Here man.” He says, “Is that for me?” I says, “Yeah man, you earned it.” And he never forgot that.

Shop for James Brown’s “Soul Syndrome” on Henry Stone Music

And to the day, almost the day he died, he called me from all over the world almost every two weeks. We were friends for over 50 years. We even did a label together, BrownStone Records. I was like his Godfather. He never forgot.

He used to call me “Hennystone,” man, and always made me feel real good that I was involved with his music. Throughout his whole career he would never put a record out, he’d fly down to Miami, or I’d hop in his private jet, and before he put a record out I’d have to hear it first. This went on for years and years.

James Brown, man, what a guy.

Aug 052013
 
henrystoneandtkstaffcirca70s

Henry Stone with some of his TK Productions staff in the 1970s

Henry Stone’s TK Productions was a multicultural melting pot of singers, writers, producers, engineers, and artists from a world of different backgrounds, just like Miami. His studio’s famous open door policy welcomed any hard working talent the city offered. And though he specialized in rhythm and blues, he certainly recorded plenty of honky music. Here are the top 12 white artists who recorded for Henry Stone:

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12. Mercy
The Song: “Love (Can Make You Happy)”
Mercy was a small group from Tampa whose big claim to fame was going to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. They originally recorded the song for the tiny Sundi label and released it nationally through Jamie Records in Philadelphia. However, a legal conflict involving that label’s use of the Mercy name to sell records on a completely different group led them back to Florida. Mercy approached Henry Stone, who signed the band, re-recorded their hit at his TK Studio in Hialeah, and then got the band a deal with Warner Bros/7 Arts for national distribution. The Warner Bros version became a hit while the Sundi version faltered. Then Stone recorded a whole album on the band, and that became a hit as well.

alkooper
11. Al Kooper
The Songs: “I Am Woman,” “Let Me Go Down” (Betty Wright), “Jolie,” “Be Yourself, Be Real” (Latimore)
According to Al Kooper’s own website, he was driving through Georgia when he heard Betty Wright’s “Cleanup Woman” on the radio for the first time and the intricate double guitar line blew his mind. He immediately traveled to TK headquarters in Hialeah and ran into his old buddy Steve Alaimo from Dick Clark’s “Where The Action Is.” He asked Alaimo if he could meet the three guitar players from “Cleanup Woman” and when Steve took him to meet Little Beaver his mind was blown once again. He stuck around in 1973 and produced, composed, arranged, and played on sides for Henry Stone’s Glades and Alston labels.

MikeBloomfield-EssentialBlues
10. Mike Bloomfield
The Album: Count Talent And The Originals
According to Henry Stone, “I don’t even really remember how that came about. Steve Alaimo made the deal to get that. It was cut somewhere else, some other studio, but we put it out on TK. It didn’t do too well either. But we were always expanding. Always looking out. We always kept our ears open. I concentrated on the r&b and disco side, and Steve was more into the rock stuff. So that’s how that happened.”

31stoffebruary
9. The 31st Of February
The Song: “Sandcastles”
The Album: Self Titled
The 31st Of February were a three man band from Jacksonville who met at FSU in 1965. They dropped out of college to pursue music full time and found gigs in Daytona, where they met the Allman Brothers, Duane and Gregg. The trio went down to Miami where they worked with producers Steve Alaimo and Brad Shapiro to create the Florida rock gem “Sandcastles,” which features organ backing by Latimore and Bobby “Birdwatcher” Puccetti. Their album came out on Vanguard Records. Drummer Butch Trucks later joined the Allman Bros. Band, singer Scott Boyer formed the band Cowboy, and bassist David Brown joined Boz Scaggs. Today, their album is considered a cult classic by the like of Steven Van Zandt on his undergound garage radio show.

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Photo by Sue Holt via Limestone Lounge

8. Terry Kane and Cousins
The Song: “Take Your Love and Shove It”
Terry Kane was less than 20 years old when he built Henry Stone’s 8 track studio in the small space above his distribution warehouse office. In fact, his initials became the name of the record label that would churn out over 25 gold records worth of hits, and over 100 million records sold. His own band, Cousins, a comedy rock group from Ft Lauderdale, were produced by Steve Alaimo and Brad Shapiro. Their 1969 release on their Shove Love vanity label was leased to Atlantic for national distribution and is today a rare and valuable commodity for record collectors.

Paul_Revere_and_the_Raiders_1968
7. Paul Revere and The Raiders
The Songs: “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong,” “You’re Really Sayin’ Something”
Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of KC & The Sunshine Band produced these tracks for the TK subsidiary label Drive. Steve Alaimo had known the band since they worked together on the Dick Clark produced tv show he hosted from 1965-67, “Where The Action Is.” However, the only band member who remained in the Drive incarnation was the band name’s copyright holder Paul Revere. He was joined by Carl Driggs from Kracker and Foxy, and they created these deviations from the rock sound the band was known for. Paul Revere’s original version of the band was r&b oriented though, so this was a return to his roots.

peterbrown001
6. Peter Brown
The Hits: “Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me,” “Dance With Me”
Peter Brown was a Chicago home-recorder who used to send demos to Henry Stone producer Cory Wade. When Stone heard a demo version of “Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?” he was ready to release it as it. Brown protested that he needed to recut it in a professional studio and Stone agreed. The single subsequently became a monster hit, and the first 12″ record to sell a million copies. It is a hugely influential record in the world of electronic music. Peter Brown later went on to write the Madonna song “Material Girl.”

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5. Bobby Caldwell
The Hit: “What You Won’t Do For Love”
A leading progenitor of so called “blue eyed soul,” Bobby Caldwell was a white pop artist who Henry Stone broke through the world of R&B radio. On his first album, Stone kept Caldwell in silhouette on the record’s cover so that nobody would know he was white. The single “What You Won’t Do For Love” crossed over to the pop charts and became a big seller.

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4. Steve Alaimo
The Hit: “Every Day I Have To Cry Some”
Steve Alaimo was a University of Miami student from upstate New York singing in a band called The Redcoats when he met Henry Stone. Alaimo quickly went from opening local hops with that band to headlining for 6 months at the Eden Roc on Miami Beach, playing after hours jams across the bridge in Overtown, producing Sam&Dave’s first records, working as a promotion man for the greatest independent labels in the country, recording original tunes and covers, appearing on American Bandstand, hosting “Where The Action Is” for Dick Clark, performing sold out shows in Puerto Rico, and the Copa Cabana in New York City, becoming a star in El Salvador, recording an album entirely in Spanish, recording a ska album backed by Jamaican music pioneers The Blues Busters, and engineering sessions by obscure forgotten locals, and future stars alike. In the early 70s he became Stone VP at TK Productions where he was instrumental to the company’s success and the worldwide disco explosion. Steve Alaimo is a hero of independent music history.

duaneandgregallman
3. Duane and Gregg Allman
The Hit:Melissa
Not only did Duane and Gregg Allman cut sessions at Henry Stone’s TK Studios, they actually lived there for a couple of weeks at a time as they recorded demos for the Butch Trucks band 31st of February. One of the Allman Bros band’s most iconic songs, “Melissa,” was actually written by Steve Alaimo. Legend has it (according to Miami recording pioneer Howard Albert) that Tom Petty was in Miami messing around with them in the studio for his band Mudcrutch at the same time, though unfortunately no physical proof exists. Duane and Gregg’s recordings sat in the TK vaults till 1972 when they were released through Bold Records with several cuts controlled by Henry Stone’s Sherlyn publishing.

Wayne_Cochran_1969
2. Wayne Cochran
Known as the “White Knight Of Soul,” Wayne Cochran was a giant pompadoured one man wrecking ball of entertainment backed by an evershifting band of locktight syncopators. Here’s what Henry Stone himself had to say about him: “We recorded his last couple of records. When he was just about over, when his career was just about through, before he became a preacher, we cut some sides on him and put them out on Drive. Way before that I was actually sort of instrumental in getting him on Chess Records. Leonard Chess was staying at the Thunderbird Motel in Miami Beach and we went together to go see Wayne Cochran perform at The Barn, which was a club on the 79th Street Causeway. I encouraged Leonard to sign him. At the time it would have been sort of a conflict for me to record him at the same time as Steve Alaimo. They were both white with a similar sound. But of course later we ended up doing some sides with him.”

harry-wayne-casey
1. Harry Wayne Casey aka KC from KC and The Sunshine Band
The Hits: “Get Down Tonight,” “Boogie Shoes,” “Shake Your Booty,” “Keep It Comin Love,” “Please Don’t Go”
Harry Wayne Casey joined Henry Stone’s Tone Distribution company as a stockboy working in the warehouse. Stone took a shine to the kid and promoted him to making liquor store runs for his and James Brown’s post-work Cognac supplies. Eventually he let him mess around in the studio after hours with engineering intern Rick Finch and together they wrote and recorded George McCrae’s global disco hit “Rock Your Baby.” Soon they formed KC and The Sunshine Band, began recording their own material and 5 number one worldwide hits later KC’s name has forever been etched into the pantheon of dance music history. That is one funky honkey.

Aug 012013
 

gwenmccraesings_tk
Gwen McCrae, oooh she can sing her ass off, and such a cool chick too. She was very helpful in the TK studio days with her background singing. And then of course “Rockin’ Chair” was a million seller.

George McCrae was her husband and chauffeur at the time, he’d drive her down from West Palm Beach where they lived. He’d recently had his big Henry Stone TK Disco hit “Rock Your Baby.” Gwen was so upset that he had a hit and she hadn’t. She was practically screaming in the studio. I can remember her voice ringing out through my Tone Distribution warehouse. And she had a huge voice. Man was she pissed.

She’d had some fairly good releases out before “Rockin’ Chair” such as “For Your Love,” and a few other nice records that did fairly well on my Cat label, but nothin’ like “Rock Your Baby.”

That’s when I sat down with Clarence Reid to discuss material for Gwen’s next session. I said, “Clarence, we gotta come up with a hit for Gwen.” Clarence came up with the idea for “Rockin’ Chair” and we took Gwen upstairs to my 8 track studio with our great TK session musicians and recorded the hit classic “Rockin’ Chair.”

We didn’t mess around. We knocked that out in one night. Definitely. For a single record like that? Boom. For an album you gotta do a whole bunch to get it all soundin’ right. But singles, we used to knock em’ out. I was in the studio when they recorded the song and I liked the groove. When we hit the first groove I knew it was a hit. We released the record and it became a million selling record for Gwen.

“Rockin’ Chair” went #1 on the Billboard black charts, and it went into the top ten on the Billboard pop charts. She earned gold records from Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World Magazines. In fact, she and George were presented with a gold rocking chair inscribed with “Rock Your Baby In Your Rockin’ Chair.”

Then, in 2006 I recorded “Gwen McCrae Sings TK” and “Rockin’ Chair” became one of the leading tracks on that album.

6 months ago while working in the UK, Gwen had a stroke and could not work anymore so we got her back into the United States and at the present time she is slowly recovering.

Gwen is an awesome lady and person and singer, and let’s hope “Rockin’ Chair” rocks her back to health.

One of the last things she did before she got sick was to sing the backup part for Latimore’s “Hit The Road Jack” Gwen, Leah, and Sofia.

- Shop for Gwen McCrae Sings TK

- Shop for Latimore Remembers Ray Charles

Jul 312013
 

blowflymoviesquare
He’s the biggest character in the whole fuckin world man. Clarence Reid, man. Blowfly. That was my invention. Blowfly. Clarence was y’know one of my writers, good writer yknow, he wrote “Rockin Chair,” for Gwen McCrae. Good songwriter. So I used to have a little piano in front of my office. Musicians used to come in and sit down. Clarence was sittin’ there foolin’ around with an old song. I’m in my office doin what I’m doin. I hear him by the piano all of a sudden playin “Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay,” but he’s sayin’ “Shittin On The Dock Of The Bay.” I say “Clarence! What is that?” I said “Go upstairs and cut that immediately! We had an 8 track studio above my Tone Distribution office. That’s where we cut a lot of hits.” So I said, “Clarence go up there and put that on tape immediately, so he finishes Shittin On The Dock Of The Bay, and I say come up with some more ideas, man, and cut some songs. So that’s when Blowfly came into existence. Shittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay.

Check out the Blowfly Store!