James Brown

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.

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.









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

Aug 062013

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.

Jul 102013

From the Archives:

Henry Stone and James Brown

An old shot of Henry and James Brown at the Hot offices in 1997. Henry met James way back when James was just starting out and gave him some valuable advice that helped launch his career. They became good friends for the rest of James’ life. They even had a record label together called BrownStone (Get it? Brown + Stone). This photo still hangs on Henry’s office wall as a reminder of his good friend.


May 102013

James Brown talks to Larry King about his friendship with Henry Stone.

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Henry Stone and James Brown through the years:

Me and James Brown were great friends since about 1954. At the time I was working with Syd Nathan of King Records on a label we had a 50-50% deal on called DeLuxe Records. I was working a record called “Hearts Of Stone” by Otis Williams and The Charms that would go on to be the first million selling r&b record to cross over into the pop charts. Anyway, I was sitting in my office in Miami when I got a call from Syd. He said, “Henry, there’s guy in Macon, Georgia by the name of James Brown whos got a hot acetate for this song “Please, Please, Please.” I want you to get your ass up there as fast as you can and sign him to DeLuxe.”

So right away I hopped in my little blue Buick and drove up the coast of Florida as fast as I could. Meanwhile, Syd had made a very similar phone call to his A&R for Federal Records, the legendary Ralph Bass. Well Ralph was just one state over from Georgia at the time, so he ended up beating me to Macon by a day. He offered James a recording contract, and he took it and signed to Federal Records.

Early photo of James Brown and Henry Stone c. 1968

Early photo of James Brown and Henry Stone c. 1968

So, I got there a day later and met the guy, and ya know what, we really hit it off. I listened to his song and I said “Man this is a hit. I’m gonna take it on the road with me while I’m promoting Hearts Of Stone and give it some DJs I know.” He was real cool and appreciative, and of course his King recordings really started to take off.

James Brown hanging out in Henry Stone's office.

James Brown hanging out in Henry Stone’s office.

When I got back to Miami I had a conversation with my buddy Ernie Busker who ran a concert hall called the Million Dollar Palms of Hallandale. It was just barely north of Miami, a nice big outdoorish venue with a huge long bar off a dirt road almost in the middle of nowhere like. Ernie used to throw these huge dances with all the big R&B acts of the time from Wynonie Harris to Willis “Gator Tail” Jackson. ANyway, he asked me if I had a lead on any new talent and I told him all about James Brown. He booked him for a weekend of gigs and made a lot of money. He asked me about booking him again so I said “Listen, Ernie, this kid is gonna be a big star, you saw how he performed out there. You better give him a couple thousand bucks now so you can get him back later.” He agreed, and I took James Brown a nice big wad of cash, and James Brown had a great memory. He never forgot that.

James Brown and Henry Stone out  on the town.

James Brown and Henry Stone out on the town.

We were really tight throughout the years and he wouldn’t sign a contract or put out an album without letting me read every word and hear every song first. When Poygram wanted to sign him, I told them they had to give him a private jet. And they did! All through my TK years he used to call me all the time, and come down to Miami to hang out every few weeks.

We also had a record label together called BrownStone.

James Brown was great friend and I still miss our conversations to this day. I can picture it so perfectly in my mind, sending young KC to M&M Liquors any time James came through, and drinking Cognac with him in the bar I had in my office at TK Records.

Feb 252013
My big interview with Dick Gordon

My big interview with Dick Gordon


Last week I got a call from Carol, a producer for “The Story, With Dick Gordon,” a really great nationwide public radio show that wanted to interview me for a segment on The Miami Sound.

So today, I drove up to the WLRN studio in Downtown Miami and got on the ISDN line with Dick Gordon in North Carolina for the interview.

Wow, he really did his research. We talked about my early days as a trumpet player in the first integrated army band at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. We talked about my moving to California after the war, how I worked with a 17 year old Mel Torme at the studio of Ben Pollock, how I ended up with the Bihari Brothers at Modern Records, and my early distribution efforts (nationwide) with the train porters.

We got into my big move to Miami, my first million selling single (The Charms, on DeLuxe), co founding James Brown, discovering Sam & Dave, and of course recording Ray Charles.

We talked about my Tone Distributing, growing with Atlantic, hitting the road with Leonard Chess, and a few big hits I had like “Cleanup Woman,” “Funky Nassau,” “Rockin’ Chair,” and of course the first ever worldwide disco hit “Rock Your Baby” with George McCrae.

All in all, it was a great story, and I can’t wait to hear it on the radio, playing to over 125 FM stations around the U.S. (and a couple of AM stations too). And I can’t wait for you to hear it too. I will make sure and let you know when it’s out.




Feb 202012

The James Brown Band aka The J.B.’s – Groove Machine
Buy Now


1. Rock Groove Machine (9:00)
2. Georgia Peach Disco (10:03)
3. Just Wanna Make You Dance (8:08)
[The J.B.s featuring MAXX]
4. Rock Disco #1 (7:10)
5. Rock (4:30)

Euro Disco Funk
by The James Brown Band
aka The J.B.’s

This 1970s trend-setting album steps way outside the box, as the James Brown produced J.B.’s lay down a disco groove that will make you get up off that thang and dance like a white boy. Don’t miss out on this thumping Disco Classic!

To Order: Click the RED “Add To Cart” button below. Then, proceed to checkout.

Order The J.B.'s - Groove Machine CD @ $12.98

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Jun 152011

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1. Betty Wright – Clean Up Woman Listen to a Sample Sample
2. Jimmy Bo Horne – Spank Listen to a Sample Sample
3. Little Beaver – Party Down Listen to a Sample Sample
4. Gwen McCrae – Rockin’ Chair Listen to a Sample Sample
5. Steve Alaimo & Betty Wright – The Smoke Is Gone Listen to a Sample Sample
6. Latimore – Let’s Straighten It Out Listen to a Sample Sample
7. Peter Brown – Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me Listen to a Sample Sample
8. The Charms – Hearts Of Stone Listen to a Sample Sample
9. Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together Listen to a Sample Sample
10. Foxy – Get Off Listen to a Sample Sample
11. T-Connection – Do What You Wanna Do Listen to a Sample Sample
12. Clarence Reid – Nobody But You Babe Listen to a Sample Sample
13. Wilson Pickett – The Best Part Of A Man Listen to a Sample Sample
14. Miami f/ Robert Moore – Party Freaks Listen to a Sample Sample
15. James Brown – Rapp Payback Listen to a Sample Sample

Henry Stone is noted as one of the handful of individuals that started the independent movement in the music business. His involvement was key in bringing the music industry to the world. Henry Stone, dubbed the Godfather of Florida & Miami Soul, R&B, Blues, & Dance, has been an instrumental part of the music industry in Miami and throughout the world as both an independent record label owner and distributor. Stone found his niche after WW II by selling records from the trunk of his car.

In the early 1950s he was one of the first to record Ray Charles. He found and recorded James Brown as early as 1955. Also in 1955 he had his first million selling record with the Charms singing “Hearts of Stone”. In the 1960s Stone became the largest independent record distributor in the Southeast, distributing for Atlantic, Warner Bros., Motown, Stax and many more. At the time these were all independent record labels. Stone started the Miami Music craze in the late 1960s with million sellers from artists like Beginning of the End “Funky Nassau”, Clarence Reid “Nobody But You Babe”, Betty Wright “Clean Up Woman” and others. Stone’s biggest label, TK Records, was founded in the 1970s and charted 23 gold and platinum records worldwide. He discovered KC & The Sunshine Band and other million sellers including George McCrae, Gwen McCrae, Latimore, Timmy Thomas, Peter Brown and many more.

Hidden Treasures is a collection of some of the Legendary Henry Stone’s favorite songs from his labels 1950 – 1980. Vol. 1.

To Order: Click the RED “Add To Cart” button below. Then, proceed to checkout.

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Mar 102011

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1. Funk On Ahh Roll
2. That Lucky Old Sun
3. Respect Me (First, Respect Yourself) Radio Mix Listen to a Sample Sample
4. Respect Me (First, Respect Yourself) Club Mix
5. God Is Good Listen to a Sample Sample
6. Peace In The World
7. I Wanna Be Loved on The “1” Listen to a Sample Sample
8. Motivation Remix
9. Say It Again (with James Brown & Bobby Byrd)
10. Betcha Bottom Dollar (Yamma Brown)
11. Betcha Bottom Dollar Instrumental
12. I Got To Feel It (Yamma Brown)
13. All Weather Girl (Venisha Brown)

In the mid-1950s, I was in Miami when I received a call from King records president, Syd Nathan. He had heard about a demo track cut in Macon, Georgia by an R&B group called The Famous Flames. They had been making quite a bit of noise in and around Macon. The group leader was a flamboyant lead singer and dancer by the name of James Brown. I jumped into an old blue Buick and immediately headed for Macon to meet with James. I was hoping to pick up the demo for my King distributed Deluxe label. At the same time Nathan had called me, he had also contacted Federal records A&R (Artist & Repertoire) man, Ralph Bass. Bass, who was in Birmingham, Alabama at the time, also hightailed it to Macon. The demo that was causing all the excitement was called “Please, Please, Please”.

Bass, who was closer to Macon, beat me there by one day. He picked up the master demo and sent it on to King records in Cincinnati. When I arrived in Macon a day later I met James Brown for the first time and explained that I was sent by Nathan to pick up the master demo. I further explained to James that I was part of King records and after listening to the demo myself, I knew that it was James Brown’s raw emotion that really made this song stand out. I knew without a doubt it was going to be an immediate smash hit. I told James I was going to be very instrumental in promoting his soon to be pressed demo. The demo was pressed as a record on the Federal label in the spring of 1956 and with the help of my promotion and my belief in James Brown, it became a huge R&B smash. It would in time become his trademark song in which he launched his legendary Cape act.

Upon returning to Miami I immediately contacted Ernie Busker, owner of Palms Of Hallandale. The Palms Of Hallandale was a famous black nightclub that booked many major R&B acts such as Louis Jordon and Wynonie Harris on the weekends. Busker used to consult with me at the time about any new acts that were breaking out so he could get them at a reduced price. I told Busker about James Brown & The Famous Flames and stated that James alone would soon probably become a major R&B artist. I also informed Busker that their record was starting to break out nationally. Busker brought in James Brown & The Famous Flames the following weekend at a very low price and James Brown & The Famous Flames brought the roof down. Their explosive show stunned the audience members. James Brown went onto become a living legend and James and I have remained close friends all these years.

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, called me his Godfather. I have been with James Brown since the beginning of Please, Please, Please, as a mentor and as a friend. In the early 90s, we formed the Brownstone record label and put out several releases over the years. James sent me a number of tracks to be released and tested on the Brownstone label. After James’ sudden death, I felt it was important to put out this CD, James Brown A Family Affair, in honor of James’ memory, to release these tracks to the world as James Brown would have wanted. This collection includes material that he sent me from himself and his two daughters, Yamma Brown and Venisha Brown.

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Mar 102011

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Rapp Payback
Mashed Potatoes
Funky Men
Smokin’ & Drinkin’
Stay With Me
Honky Tonk Listen to a Sample Sample

This album was recorded by Henry Stone in the midst of the disco era. Stone felt that James Brown needed a little boost in his career and went to Atlanta to produce this album, along with James Brown. The album was originally released on LP and Stone felt it should be remastered digitally and released for download and on CD so that it could be available to James Brown fans around the world.

“Back together again, the greatest, the original International Brothers. The album proves that brothers can be brothers in spirit other than brothers in color. We proved that soul is everybody.
God Bless,
James Brown”

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Order James Brown Soul Syndrome CD @ $12.98

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