Henry Stone

Jun 302015

“I’ll never forget when I was distributing Motown. They sent a new record down to me to test,  and I put it on the air down here with my cronies on the radio, and the record busted wide open, man. And it wasn’t one of the big ones, the Temptations, or Stevie Wonder. It wasn’t a big artist. It was a secondary artist.

But I knew it was a hit so I ordered 13,000 records. Ten thousand to sell and three thousand for promotions. And Barney Ales, who was the president of Motown at the time called me and said,

“Henry, I ain’t gonna ship you this record you fuckin idiot this record ain’t hot anywhere!”

But see, I had a reputation of being a trans-shipper too. A trans-shipping distributor. Florida was my official territory, which was considered a two point market nationwide. If a label sold 100,000 records nationally, I was supposed to sell 2,000. But because I worked my connections around the country, I would end up selling 10,000 or more records. I became a one-man 10 to 15 percent market on black records, because I shipped em’ all over: to New York, and Philly, and Chicago, wherever, I had contacts everywhere. DJ’s and promoters and mom and pop shops and sub-distributors that I could use to get songs on the air, into the stores, and dollars in my pocket.

So I got that transhipping reputation. Of course the other distributors hated me, but they got to learn how to live with it. But the manufacturers loved me, cause I would break all these records. And the artists loved me too. I would get calls from them all the time cause they knew what I was doing too.

So it got to be know that when Henry Stone ordered 13,000 records, they knew they had a national hit.

I remember calling Bob Keen in California. He had his Keen Records label. I said, “Bob, I need 10,000 of that new record. Really 13,000, I need 3,000 for myself.”

He said, “Really? What’re you gonna do with em’.”

I said, “Bob, I’m gonna sell the motherfuckers.” And that was Saqm Cooke’s “You Send Me.”

I was a big distributor and I had a good living as a distributor, but I still loved making records. Instead of playing golf, I made records. I was a 24-7 guy. That’s what I did.”

Jun 292015

“When I was out in California starting in the music business after WWII, I had a gimmick when I was trying to get the records around out there. I made a thing called the Indie Index.

I was out selling records and people would say, “Well who the hell is so and so anyway? Who are these people? Where do we get the records?”

And I would give them the Indie Index which listed the artists and the labels. People didn’t know anything back then. It was so new. There was no radio for independent black music. It was all done through the jukeboxes.

So when I moved down to Miami, I brought the indie index with me, took it to a print shop and figured I’d continue my venture like that.

But as I went down to get my driver’s license at the courthouse on Flagler, I was walking up the steps and I heard someone screaming my name,

“Henry Stone, hey, Henry Stone!”

I turned around and this was an old buddy of mine from California that I knew very well.

He said, “Look I got about 10,000 records I shipped down here by train,”

In those days you either shipped by train or by boat, that was the mode of transportation

He said, “I just got beat on a deal. But if you pick up these records and sell em for me, I know you’re gonna pay me cause I know your reputation.”

I said, “Great!”

So I picked up the 10,000 records and thats how i started in the distribution business here in Florida

Now in those 10,000 records there was several thousand copies of one called “Open The Door Richard, ” by Jack McVea, and I ended up with a hit record on my hands in 1948, and I sold em.

There were no record stores in Miami in 1948. No record stores.

You ever hear of Philpitt’s. That was music store that had a little section where they sold a few records yknow? But they weren’t gonna buy 10,000 off me. They probably sold a few a week.

So I sold most of those records to Juke Box operators, they put the boxes in the black whorehouses and stuff like that

That’s how I really started in the distribution business”

Jun 262015

End Records was partially Morris Levy’s label. END. It was between him and George Goldner. Goldner was quite a character. He’s the one that really put Morris in the business. George was the one that had “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.” Plus he had a lot of pretty big songs on top of that with his END and Gone record labels to name a couple.

George was a real character. I remember when he was married to this Latin chick. Mona. She used to chase him all over the country. She used to chase him at the conventions, knock on every door and say,

“Is George in here?! Motherfucker. I know he’s screwing around.”

Maybe he was at the bar havin a drink who knows. But anyway George, he and I were very cool, but he had his rules. Number one, he wouldn’t fly. So he used to make me get on the train with him and go to New York and we’d sit and play gin rummy the whole time. From Miami to New York. That’s the only time I went on a train. Actually, when I was in the army I went on a train.

Morris Levy wouldn’t fly either. Fear of flying. Morris used to drive to California in fact. George had these labels hooked up with Morris cause George used to be a huge gambler and used to go broke all the time and always needed money. He and Hymie Weiss from Old Towne Records used to go to the harness tracks in New York.

And when George was in Miami we’d take him to the track all the time. Tropical Park was it? Steve Alaimo and I took him to the track.

I’ll never forget one time when took him to the track. We were there at the track just goofin around, winning and losin ya know. And George musta blown $20,000 dollars. Cause that’s the way he used to bet. I used to bet ten dollas, twenty dollas yaknow. So George is tapped out, so he goes to Steve, the last fifty dollas that Steve Alaimo has, and he says,

“Steve lend me fifty dollas.”

Steve says, “Whattaya crazy man? ya gonna blow it. That’s hot dog money and to get home.”

But George was so convincing that Steve gave him the fifty bucks and George put it on a trifecta, the last race or somethin, Baboom. It came in. And God knows how many thousands of dollars he hit on that trifecta. George was a weird cat, man, funny cat.

Jun 252015

“I used to work along with Henry Glover a lot. He was great, he was really experienced, and I was like learning from him yknow. He was a good teacher, Henry. Real nice guy, real terrific. Educated. Terrific musician. And he used to do all this A&R work for King and had all these hit records with Bullmoose Jackson,  Wynonie Harris, Earl Bostic. Big time yknow.

So when I was in Cincinatti visiting King, he’d be doin’ a session, and I’d be right there sittin in there with him. And I’ll never forget one particular situation. It was my idea a little bit. Kinda a combination. I can’t take all the credit, well we were in a studio recording, and the group was Tiny Bradshaw’s, a good band. Tiny Bradshaw was one of those good like likeable Bullmoose Jackson types of the time, in that category, and Henry Glover was recording him. And I was there maybe setting the mic up, doin’ something yknow what I mean? Just learning what Henry was doin cause he was so good. So we’re recording this record called “Soft” by Tiny Bradshaw.

In those days, they used to take the drummer and….Setups used to be the drummer was in the corner with a thing to keep em isolated yknow, they still do that occasionally too, even though things have changed because of electronics and everything. So we’re cutting this record and I said to Henry “Why don’t we take the microphone and put it on the drums, get a real shhhh, cause it was a brush thing the drummer was using, which would get lost on the regular mix. It fit perfect cause that’s the name of the, “Soft.”

I’ll never forget Syd Nathan comes in the studio and say,

“What The Fuck are you guys doing, you’re gonna ruin my microphones, whattaya doin?”

So I said, “We’re comin’ up with a new idea, man.”

And that was a little incident that happened with Henry Glover on King Records.

Jun 242015

James Brown on the ABC television program Music Scene. 1969 (wikimedia commons)

“Jerry Wexler’s son’s in the music business. I hear about him every once in a while. He was a producer in the bidness yaknow. So here’s a story: The guy from Island Records, Chris Blackwell wanted to sign James Brown and record him. So he got a contract on James, and sent him on down to Nassau to record with that group there, that great rhythm section in Nassau at the studio there. And he hired Paul Wexler, when he was pretty young, to produce the session yaknow. So bout 2 or 3 days later I get a frantic call from Jerry Wexler,

“Henry! Help. Help.”

I say, “What’s the problem man?”

He says James is crucifying my kid man, help!”

He says, “Please call James Brown and tell him to back off. That’s my kid yaknow.”

But you know who the only white man ever allowed in the studio with James Brown was? Me. Henry Stone. But that’s where I belonged.

James ended up throwing Paul out of the studio by the scruff of his neck and sending him back to New York.

James said, “I’ll do my own session man!”

He always knew what he wanted. That’s what he did.

Jul 312014
Joe Stone Miami Bass

Joe Stone, in Henry Stone’s recording studio

Henry Stone Music’s own Joe Stone recently spoke to Miami New Times about his history with the Miami Bass style of music.

Joe was instrumental to the genre through his work with L’Trimm with “Cars That Go Boom,” and Guci Crew II with “Sally That Girl,” as well as many other hits that came out on various Henry Stone labels from that era.

Even today those songs have been sampled and resampled, appeared on movie soundtracks, and in commercials and still make up an essentiali portion of our catalog to this day.

Here’s the first couple of lines from the article and a link so that you can go to the newspaper’s website and check it out for yourself.

“Miami is the undisputed world heavyweight champion of bass, and the globe’s leading progenitor of trunk rattle, rear-view shake, and total body thump.

The genre is a direct descendent of Pretty Tony’s freestyle productions, and Henry Stone’s earlier indie R&B Pop. It’s the single hardest electronic boom in the universe, and we’re proud.

Joe Stone, son of kingpin Henry, helped bring that hard-knock Miami bass baby into the world. And alongside a talented bevvy of behind-the-scenes players from Orlando to the MIA, he was there turning knobs and flipping switches to drop the first extended 808 kick that set it all off.”

Click the linke to read the rest of the article on Miami New Times

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 052013


Lookout Wynwood! Mysterious Henry Stone street art posters have been taking over the neighborhood as Art Basel Miami 2013 descends on the city.

We don’t know who the crusaders putting these up are, but it’s good to know that as the eyes of the world are upon Miami this week, that the creator of the Miami Sound of music will be recognized too.

If you don’t know, Henry Stone is a pioneer in R&B, soul, funk, disco, dance, and hip hop music. He produced the first version of The Twist, and wrote a song covered by Frank Sinatra. He was friends with Leonard Chess, and the first distributor for Atlantic Records.

From recording Ray Charles in a warehouse on Flagler street in 1951, to discovering Sam&Dave, Betty Wright, Little Beaver, Latimore, George McCrae, KC & The Sunshine Band, Timmy Thomas, Blowlfy, Willie Clarke, and many more, Henry Stone is a giant in the world of modern music history.

From being James Brown’s Godfather, to selling hundreds of millions of records around the globe, Henry Stone has never lost the flavor of the streets of the City of Miami, and now they bear his face in tribute to that legacy.









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 142013

The Billion Dollar BandThe Billion Dollar Band
Available for download
01 Get In the Groove
02 Candy Girl
03 Love’s Sweet Notions
04 Big Time Spender
05 Without Your Lovin’
06 I Like Whatcha’ Doin’
07 Smiling Morning Love
08 Let’s Just Be Friends
09 Our Love
10 Money Don’t Grow On Trees

This rare one and only album release of pure 1970’s Miami Soul, R&B from The Billion Dollar Band Featuring Miami Horns with Mike Lewis The Miami Strings with Bernie Marks. If you like Earth Wind & Fire you will love the Billion Dollar Band.


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.


Henry Stone

Nov 052013

Sam Moore came down and did the interview for my movie “Rock Your Baby.” He was in the group Sam & Dave, who are the biggest selling duo in the history of music.

I used to see em’ play over at the King Of Hearts in Liberty City. Guy named John Lomelo owned the club and was also basically their manager.

Steve Alaimo worked with Sam and Dave here in Miami. He worked the clubs like the Knight Beat and The King Of Hearts with them. And then he produced some records on them for my Alston and Marlin Records that ended up on Roulette. Those were the first sides they ever cut. Later I was instrumental on their recording with Isaac Hayes and David Porter down at Stax for Atlantic, but that’s another story.

You’ll hear all about it in the movie.

Steve went down to a little club in Downtown Miami and met up with Sam Moore there and my movie director Mark Moorman and his film crew, and they shot some helluva scene there. Steve was the one who really produced their records down here. They also filmed at the Criteria Studios yknow, now it’s called the Hit Factory. That’s where they cut some of those Alston and Marlin records that ended up on Roulette.

Steve said it went over very good. They were just talking about old times, talkin about Sam Cooke and some of the old artists that used to come down.They said the filming went very good. Mark Moorman the director was very happy

I havent spoken to Sam Moore in 50 years now. I’m really happy for his success. He’s still out there. Still working. Apparently doing real good for himself.

The reports I’m getting on the film is that they’re just about through filming. The next phase is the editing and the post production, which, should start immediately yaknow.

The film should be released by the middle of 2014.