Hi, Quick update. Yesterday RJ Smith, Sr. Editor of L.A. Magazine flew into Miami to interview Henry Stone. RJ is working on a book about James Brown and he had heard through the grapevine that Henry Stone and James Brown were very close friends from there first meeting, they just clicked.
Henry had driven to Macon, Ga. in his Buick because at that time people didn’t fly very much, the year was 1954. Henry was partners with Syd Nathan at the time. Henry owned Deluxe Records and Syd owned King records. Syd had heard about a young singer in Georgia who was supposed to be great, so he called Henry and said, I think it would be a good idea to get to Georgia and check him out, at the same time there was another record man who worked A&R for King Records.
King had a few different labels that they used to put there artists on, one of the labels was Federal and that was the one that Ralph Bass did the A&R for. Syd also called Ralph to go to Georgia and because Ralph at the time was in Birmingham, Alabama, he got to Macon a day before Henry arrived from Miami and he signed James Brown to King’s Federal label. Henry loved James Brown, he was blown away by his energy and his performance.
The song was “Please, Please, Please” and it became a hugh R&B hit, and James Brown and Henry Stone became lifelong friends. He believed in him and did whatever he could to get him out there for the world to hear and see him. Henry got him booked with his first major booking at The Palms of Hallendale in Florida where the owner Ernie Busker paid James Brown $300.00 for him and his band, which included Bobby Byrd and the Famous Flames. During the show which was kind of an indoor/outdoor big nightclub the crowd went wild, they loved him, they couldn’t get enough of James Brown’s electric energy, they wanted him back and so did Ernie Busker, Henry told Ernie that he could get James Brown back if he paid him an extra $2000.00 for his record breaking performance that night which Busker agreed to do Henry handed James the extra $2000.00 and James never forgot him for that.
So, this was just one short story for the Editor to take home with him. There were 2 1/2 hours more of information that Henry shared with RJ, both about himself and his own history making career in the music business and how and why Henry and James Brown stayed such close friends over the years. A friendship that is sorely missed. This friendship was both personal and business, James Brown (and he insisted that everyone call him Mr. Brown, except for a very few people and Henry was one that could call him James, the professional part of the business was to the extent that before James would put a record out he would fly to where ever Henry was or Henry would fly to where James was and James insisted that Henry listen to it and tell him what he thought, whether it needed more work or changes.
Henry was always honest with James. If he thought it needed something he said so. Henry was one of the only people that James Brown let in the studio with him when he was recording and Henry was one of the only people to produce James Brown. Everyone referred to James Brown as the God Father of Soul and James Brown referred to Henry Stone as his God Father. You can see an interview on Henrystonemusic.com web sit where James Brown is talking about Henry and the BrownStone label he and Henry had together it is from a time when James Brown was on the Larry King Show. Henry went to Augusta to say his final farewell to James Brown, but he will always miss him.