Henry Stone with some of his TK Productions staff in the 1970s
Henry Stone’s TK Productions was a multicultural melting pot of singers, writers, producers, engineers, and artists from a world of different backgrounds, just like Miami. His studio’s famous open door policy welcomed any hard working talent the city offered. And though he specialized in rhythm and blues, he certainly recorded plenty of honky music. Here are the top 12 white artists who recorded for Henry Stone:
The Song: “Love (Can Make You Happy)”
Mercy was a small group from Tampa whose big claim to fame was going to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. They originally recorded the song for the tiny Sundi label and released it nationally through Jamie Records in Philadelphia. However, a legal conflict involving that label’s use of the Mercy name to sell records on a completely different group led them back to Florida. Mercy approached Henry Stone, who signed the band, re-recorded their hit at his TK Studio in Hialeah, and then got the band a deal with Warner Bros/7 Arts for national distribution. The Warner Bros version became a hit while the Sundi version faltered. Then Stone recorded a whole album on the band, and that became a hit as well.
11. Al Kooper
The Songs: “I Am Woman,” “Let Me Go Down” (Betty Wright), “Jolie,” “Be Yourself, Be Real” (Latimore)
According to Al Kooper’s own website, he was driving through Georgia when he heard Betty Wright’s “Cleanup Woman” on the radio for the first time and the intricate double guitar line blew his mind. He immediately traveled to TK headquarters in Hialeah and ran into his old buddy Steve Alaimo from Dick Clark’s “Where The Action Is.” He asked Alaimo if he could meet the three guitar players from “Cleanup Woman” and when Steve took him to meet Little Beaver his mind was blown once again. He stuck around in 1973 and produced, composed, arranged, and played on sides for Henry Stone’s Glades and Alston labels.
10. Mike Bloomfield
The Album: Count Talent And The Originals
According to Henry Stone, “I don’t even really remember how that came about. Steve Alaimo made the deal to get that. It was cut somewhere else, some other studio, but we put it out on TK. It didn’t do too well either. But we were always expanding. Always looking out. We always kept our ears open. I concentrated on the r&b and disco side, and Steve was more into the rock stuff. So that’s how that happened.”
9. The 31st Of February
The Song: “Sandcastles”
The Album: Self Titled
The 31st Of February were a three man band from Jacksonville who met at FSU in 1965. They dropped out of college to pursue music full time and found gigs in Daytona, where they met the Allman Brothers, Duane and Gregg. The trio went down to Miami where they worked with producers Steve Alaimo and Brad Shapiro to create the Florida rock gem “Sandcastles,” which features organ backing by Latimore and Bobby “Birdwatcher” Puccetti. Their album came out on Vanguard Records. Drummer Butch Trucks later joined the Allman Bros. Band, singer Scott Boyer formed the band Cowboy, and bassist David Brown joined Boz Scaggs. Today, their album is considered a cult classic by the like of Steven Van Zandt on his undergound garage radio show.
8. Terry Kane and Cousins
The Song: “Take Your Love and Shove It”
Terry Kane was less than 20 years old when he built Henry Stone’s 8 track studio in the small space above his distribution warehouse office. In fact, his initials became the name of the record label that would churn out over 25 gold records worth of hits, and over 100 million records sold. His own band, Cousins, a comedy rock group from Ft Lauderdale, were produced by Steve Alaimo and Brad Shapiro. Their 1969 release on their Shove Love vanity label was leased to Atlantic for national distribution and is today a rare and valuable commodity for record collectors.
7. Paul Revere and The Raiders
The Songs: “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong,” “You’re Really Sayin’ Something”
Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of KC & The Sunshine Band produced these tracks for the TK subsidiary label Drive. Steve Alaimo had known the band since they worked together on the Dick Clark produced tv show he hosted from 1965-67, “Where The Action Is.” However, the only band member who remained in the Drive incarnation was the band name’s copyright holder Paul Revere. He was joined by Carl Driggs from Kracker and Foxy, and they created these deviations from the rock sound the band was known for. Paul Revere’s original version of the band was r&b oriented though, so this was a return to his roots.
6. Peter Brown
The Hits: “Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me,” “Dance With Me”
Peter Brown was a Chicago home-recorder who used to send demos to Henry Stone producer Cory Wade. When Stone heard a demo version of “Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?” he was ready to release it as it. Brown protested that he needed to recut it in a professional studio and Stone agreed. The single subsequently became a monster hit, and the first 12″ record to sell a million copies. It is a hugely influential record in the world of electronic music. Peter Brown later went on to write the Madonna song “Material Girl.”
5. Bobby Caldwell
The Hit: “What You Won’t Do For Love”
A leading progenitor of so called “blue eyed soul,” Bobby Caldwell was a white pop artist who Henry Stone broke through the world of R&B radio. On his first album, Stone kept Caldwell in silhouette on the record’s cover so that nobody would know he was white. The single “What You Won’t Do For Love” crossed over to the pop charts and became a big seller.
4. Steve Alaimo
The Hit: “Every Day I Have To Cry Some”
Steve Alaimo was a University of Miami student from upstate New York singing in a band called The Redcoats when he met Henry Stone. Alaimo quickly went from opening local hops with that band to headlining for 6 months at the Eden Roc on Miami Beach, playing after hours jams across the bridge in Overtown, producing Sam&Dave’s first records, working as a promotion man for the greatest independent labels in the country, recording original tunes and covers, appearing on American Bandstand, hosting “Where The Action Is” for Dick Clark, performing sold out shows in Puerto Rico, and the Copa Cabana in New York City, becoming a star in El Salvador, recording an album entirely in Spanish, recording a ska album backed by Jamaican music pioneers The Blues Busters, and engineering sessions by obscure forgotten locals, and future stars alike. In the early 70s he became Stone VP at TK Productions where he was instrumental to the company’s success and the worldwide disco explosion. Steve Alaimo is a hero of independent music history.
3. Duane and Gregg Allman
Not only did Duane and Gregg Allman cut sessions at Henry Stone’s TK Studios, they actually lived there for a couple of weeks at a time as they recorded demos for the Butch Trucks band 31st of February. One of the Allman Bros band’s most iconic songs, “Melissa,” was actually written by Steve Alaimo. Legend has it (according to Miami recording pioneer Howard Albert) that Tom Petty was in Miami messing around with them in the studio for his band Mudcrutch at the same time, though unfortunately no physical proof exists. Duane and Gregg’s recordings sat in the TK vaults till 1972 when they were released through Bold Records with several cuts controlled by Henry Stone’s Sherlyn publishing.
2. Wayne Cochran
Known as the “White Knight Of Soul,” Wayne Cochran was a giant pompadoured one man wrecking ball of entertainment backed by an evershifting band of locktight syncopators. Here’s what Henry Stone himself had to say about him: “We recorded his last couple of records. When he was just about over, when his career was just about through, before he became a preacher, we cut some sides on him and put them out on Drive. Way before that I was actually sort of instrumental in getting him on Chess Records. Leonard Chess was staying at the Thunderbird Motel in Miami Beach and we went together to go see Wayne Cochran perform at The Barn, which was a club on the 79th Street Causeway. I encouraged Leonard to sign him. At the time it would have been sort of a conflict for me to record him at the same time as Steve Alaimo. They were both white with a similar sound. But of course later we ended up doing some sides with him.”
1. Harry Wayne Casey aka KC from KC and The Sunshine Band
The Hits: “Get Down Tonight,” “Boogie Shoes,” “Shake Your Booty,” “Keep It Comin Love,” “Please Don’t Go”
Harry Wayne Casey joined Henry Stone’s Tone Distribution company as a stockboy working in the warehouse. Stone took a shine to the kid and promoted him to making liquor store runs for his and James Brown’s post-work Cognac supplies. Eventually he let him mess around in the studio after hours with engineering intern Rick Finch and together they wrote and recorded George McCrae’s global disco hit “Rock Your Baby.” Soon they formed KC and The Sunshine Band, began recording their own material and 5 number one worldwide hits later KC’s name has forever been etched into the pantheon of dance music history. That is one funky honkey.