Henry Stone on Syd Nathan and King Records: “I Was Gonna Fuckin’ Kill Him”

“The big fallout with Syd Nathan was this…I got involved with Syd Nathan to activate this DeLuxe Records label. He had this dormant label that wasn’t doin’ anything and he revived it and I was a 50% partner with him on it, and he was pretty cool. Very unusual thing, he was one of the first guys to really be independent in the music business. Very brilliant guy, man. He had his King Records and he was the first individual to have his own pressing plant, made his own boxes, his own printing plant, and he had his own distribution for King Records. He didn’t use independent distributors like me. He had a little branch here in Florida, one in New York, Philly, all over. His own independent branches. Nobody else had that, he came up with that concept. Very brilliant guy. Had his own pressing plant in Cincinnati. Made his own boxes. Everything. Controlled the whole thing.

So I went with him to DeLuxe records and I worked alongside Henry Glover and Ralph Bass. Henry Glover ws the a&r guy for King Records, and Ralph Bass, artist and repertoire they’re the guy who puts the material together yknow, a&r men. Ralph Bass was the West Coast guy for Federal Records. Henry Glover was King Records, and I was Deluxe. That’s how it was broken down.

When I come up with this big hit record, my first million seller, “Hearts of Stone” by Otis Williams and The Charms….There’s a hotel in Cincinnati, the Manse Hotel, the black hotel. I used to stay there. Ralph Bass was white, Henry Glover was black, and I was white yknow. We’re sittin there havin a ball one night drinking and I say, “I got a meeting with Syd tomorrow, man, I gotta get my shit together, we sold over a million records, man.”

They started to laugh, they said, “You ain’t gonna see a fuckin penny, man.”

I said, “What you talkin bout man motherfucker owes me, man. I know he’ll skim off the top some, so what, that’s way its done, so who cares, long as I get my piece yknow.”

They say, “Aright ok Henry.”

So next day I have the meeting with Syd Nathan. I sit down the office with him, big fuckin thick glasses, cigar, and he said, “Henry. Henry……..”

And I sez, “Where’s the books? I want to bring the accounting guys in. I wanna see how much money I got comin.”

He said, “You don’t got no money comin at this time.”

I said, “How the fuck could i sell a million records and I don’t have any money coming?”

He said, “I got family. It’s a corporation. I’m 50% owner of King, and the corporation is 50% owner. If you get half the money from DeLuxe and I have to split the rest with ten other people, they’re gonna get mad.”

I said, “Gimmee my fuckin money!”

He said, “It don’t work that way motherfucker.” And then he started to get really get fuckin mad.

That just made me angry. I was a young guy, 35 years old, and that was my first big hit. I went over the table to choke him and I was gonna fuckin kill him. They pulled me off. They said, “That aint gonna do any good man.” I said, “Ok motherfucker I’ll see you in court.”

That’s when I sued him. I didn’t wanna sue him in Ohio or Florida. Some friends told me when I got involved with lawyers and friends of mine, they said, “Sue him in New York. He’s got lots of assets that King owns there, so if you win the judgment you’ll be able to collect. Cincinnatti politics and all that shit.”

 

So, bottom line is I ended up settling for some money. I made a deal. He gave me about 50,000 pressings to start my own label. And I ended up with The Charms. And got back what I recorded. It was a settlement. I didn’t believe in goin to court anyway. That’s all bullshit.

If i needed to press up records I was able to get them, that was part of my deal. So I went back to Miami and started Chart Records.”

©Jacob Katel and HenryStoneMusic USA Inc. All Rights Reserved

Share:

Leave a Reply

©HenryStoneMusic USA Inc. All Rights Reserved.
%d bloggers like this: