Henry Stone Talks Bootleg Records: “Bust Up The Pressing Plant With Baseball Bats”
“Bullet Records was a label out of Nashville. That’s the label that “Near You,” came out, the Francis Craig version. It was a huge pop record. And it was a huge bootleg record.
I had that bootleg. I bought and sold it by the thousands. People just pressed em up. That’s one of the first records I remember being bootlegged. First I was distributing the original, and then a couple guys called me up from New York and Philadelphia and said, “Henry, man, would you like to buy about 5,000 “Near You’s,” yknow, we got em’.” I said, “Sure, man.” Yknow. That’s what it was.
This was done on a major basis. Just get good equipment,copy the record with a microphone or howeva, and press it up.
The bootlegging always goes on somewhere along the way. It all depends on how big a record is. If a record’s real, real big, they can’t get enough pressing yknow. In New York City someone went to press one of my friend Hymie Weiss’s records. Hy was the Old Town Records manufacturer and his brother Sam was the distributor. And when they found out they were getting bootlegged, they sent people down to bust up the pressing plants with baseball bats. They didn’t mess around.
The bootlegs were like 15 cents a piece instead of 40 cents a piece. But I didn’t participate too much in that. I knew what was going on because all the bootleggers knew I was the only distributor down here in Florida so they always were making me offers. But the industry is a very small tight industry.
I mean, there was a hundred different record labels. But everybody knew everybody.
I remember one bootlegger named Zebley. I remember he came down to Miami in his car and dropped off about 2 or 3 thousand “Near You’s” He said, “Henry. When you sell these, pay me.” We had a good relationship.
Another record that became a real big bootleg was Buchanan and Goodman’s “Flying Saucer.” That was so big the bootleggers had to move in. Big huge million selling record,man. Just one of those clever records that took a bunch of songs and put em together yknow. I’m tryin to think of Goodman’s first name. I was involved with all these people, man. In the 80s I did some of Goodman’s last recordings. About 10 years ago he committed suicide. He was a characta, man, a real characta. Everybody knew him for doing these great novelty records.”
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