Howard Johnson from Niteflyte: “I Always Wanted To Be On TK Records”
“I actually grew up in Miami. And I was in a band called L.U.V. that snuck into the T.K. studios one night and recorded.
Fred Thomas was a Hialeah policeman who wanted to be our manager and he brought us to a guy named Red to record.
Red was a heavyset black guy, fair skinneded, and he snuck us into the studio at night all the way in the back by the alley.
I actually have a copy of it on tape, but it doesn’t start at the beginning.
I talked to Pee Wee (Willie Clarke) about it and now people are asking me to come down to Miami and do a show.
I was in a group called the Fire band, and out of the Fire band came Stevie B.
I was in a group called Niteflyte.
I got signed to A&M Records in 1981 and had a hit song called “So Fine” that was produced by Kashif.
Later I produced “I Get Around” by 2 Pac.
Someone in Miami wants to do a Fire reunion concert to reintroduce the band, and I said “Yeah, but I don’t want it to revolve around me.”
Donna Allen and I did some stuff together. She may perform. And I can probably bring Leon Silvers, and Jermaine Jackson too.
I’m in the process of getting reversion on my Niteflyte and Howard Johnson stuff. My hits were over thrity years ago and I’m still performing.
The reason I left Miami is because I never got any love like they gave Benny Latimore, George McCrae and stuff. They would just kick me to the curb.
After I did “If You Want It” with Niteflyte, I stayed in New York. I was able to work more in California and Europe. Overseas is another world. I practically live in Paris as much as the U.S.
It wasn’t the people’s fault we never made it in Miami. They just didn’t give us a chance. I didn’t have the kind of juice that Henry Stone had. Henry Stone had Miami locked down.
I never liked KC and The Sunshine Band, but at the end of the day, I was still singing their songs. They were always on the radio.
I always wanted to be on TK.
I got started out singing gospel in the Church.
My first show was at this nightclub on 22nd Ave called Tee To Green. My parents didn’t want to allow it. Didn’t want me singing in no club. My aunt went to them and said, “He’s really got a gift.” And she convinced them. And to this day she still comes to my concerts all over the world.
I was still in school back then. High School. We were listening to Betty Wright, and Little Beaver, playing little shows, and then we met Fred Thomas. He took us to the TK Studio, and everybody that worked there had a Cadillac. That’s when I met Pee Wee (Willie Clarke).
Next thing you know I’m working at the Castaways on Miami Beach with a guy named Turbine, and Bine to this day is one of the best drummers I’ve ever met in my life.
I worked 8p.m. to 3a.m. six nights a week and only made forty dollars. So to make a long story short, I quit the group and moved to New York.
Howard Smiley from T.K. found me and signed me and seven months later I had a hit with “So Fine” and the rest is history.
More than half of my life was spent in Coconut Grove and Miami never showed me love. Even when I did Soul Train I was giving props to Miami.
TK was like a gigantic family that I cut my teeth listening to, and even as a kid I felt that I’m a part of the TK sound.”