The internet is blowing up today with the release of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video. But did you know it’s based on a sample from Timmy Thomas’ platinum selling “Why Can’t We Live Together?” The crucial track came out on Henry Stone’s Glades Records in 1972.
It is the cut that founded T.K. Productions, which was the parent company for a slew of independent record labels that topped the pop and r&b charts throughout the 70s. As you can see from the above video, Polydor International handled some overseas distribution, but in America, Henry Stone handled distribution through his T.K. Productions corporation, and Glades Records grew into a major indie label with deep soul cuts by artists like Latimore, Little Milton, Clarence Reid, Archie Drell, and Timmy Thomas among others.
Henry Stone formed the T.K. Productions corporation when he found out that Atlantic Records would merge with Warner and Elektra to form WEA and conduct their own distribution. As he was a major indie distributor with his Tone Distribution company, he would lose the incentive to lease his singles up to Atlantic since they no longer required his services.
Stone was on a plane to New York to lock in the deal with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records for national distribution on “Why Can’t We Live Together.” Instead, he went straight back to Miami and decided to manufacture, market, promote, and distribute it himself instead. He ended up with a million seller on his hands right out of the gate. The song became a #1 chart topper around the world in addition to becoming the official rallying cry for an apartheid free South Africa and later the official induction song for the election of Nelson Mandela as President.
Timmy Thomas is a legend in the world of music and his simple and heartfelt tribute to peace and love is a classic whose power shall never falter. And that’s why Drake is on it.