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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 Synare

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
 
henrystonemiami_moviefundraiser_aug2013_115

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.”