Henry Stone first met James Brown in about 1954, when King Records founder Syd Nathan told both him and Ralph Bass to race to Macon, Georgia, to sign the R&B singer to a record deal.
Bass got there a day before Stone and inked the contract with James Brown for Federal Records (a King subsidiary). But the funkiest man in the history of music and Stone connected the next day, becoming lifelong friends. The James Brown movie won't include Henry, but it damn well should.
Today is Henry Stone's 93rd birthday. He was born in the Bronx on June 3, 1921. He moved to Miami in 1948. And he has lived here ever since, becoming the greatest living figure of independent Miami music
Happy birthday Stone! Here's what the razor-sharp 93 year old had to say the Saturday before his cumpleaños.
Crossfade: So, we were just talking about Latimore being on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots a couple of weeks ago. What were you saying about that?
Henry Stone: Well, they held up my Best of Latimore CD with my picture on it and a lot of people got a big kick out of that. They took the CD and made it like a big mockup record and Jimmy held it up a couple of times. We've been selling a ton of those Latimores on Amazon and stuff since that show came out.
Hell yeah. People are getting re-familiarized with some songs that have been stuck in their heads for their whole lives.
So that's what we're concentrating on. We're not concentrating on making up CDs and selling 'em cause there's no place to sell 'em. Like I say, our biggest accounts are all gone. But we're doing something about it. A lot of guys that I know have just folded like, "Fuck it, we gotta get out."
How many independents you seen buckle under the pressure over your career?
Quite a few, man. And this is the new batch. Y'know, it costs a lot of money to put these things out, to press 'em, and distribute 'em, and promote 'em. And if you go into a studio and you record, you could record for a 100 or 200 bucks. But the average guy who is known, they go in with a band, background singers, the whole works, and a session can cost anything from 15 to 20 thousand dollars. And that's not a lot.
We used to have sessions for $50,000. But we had ways of recouping that money 'cause we were selling millions of pieces of catalog. But now there's no way unless you're Jay-Z or Beyoncé or one of the top 15 people that go straight to Target, Walmart. Actually, I know for a fact from [music executives] Barry Weiss and Doug Morris, which I know both of them very well, I know that they're not givin' any more advances to young guys that are makin' good records. You gotta come up with your own money.
You know Jimmy Iovine at all? What do you think about his big Beats deal?
Yeah, very well. My office was right next to him when I had my office in New York. He was an up-and-coming record guy at the time in the '70s and he had an office right close to mine. I used to meet him for lunch every once in a while. But he's a big man now with Dr Dre. Three fuckin' billion dollas, man. That's fuckin' crazy.
Imagine, $3,000,000,000.000 fuckin' billion dollas, man. Whatever he did was smart. Hey, his company has always been a top-two company for the past five years. And they been distributed by Universal and everything. But his company has been hot -- hit after hit after hit, rap artist after rap artist went through his company.
He musta learned something from you.
Well, I dunno about that.
Some kind of influence ...
Anyway. The bottom line is the changes are so severe. But I'm on top of it, rather than cry, "Oh what are we gonna do?" We're hustling licensing, getting quite a few licensing around the world.
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Any cool shit comin' up, shows , movies? Didnt "Cars That Go Boom" go live to the movie theaters round the world? You got it in that movie "Need For Speed" right?
Yeah. And then there's a sample in the new, what's Mariah Carey's husband, Nick Cannon, "America" or something like that...some sample they did on us, from "Sally That Girl." Sally yeah Sally that girl, boom. So we're like hustling through that. It's just a matter of going after what you got.
I just got off the phone yesterday with Mark Moorman (who's doin my documentary) yesterday, he said, "Henry, we Got ourselves a movie here man!" I never heard a guy so excited. He says, "We're all through shooting. Just finished with Little Beaver man, got a great interview with him."
So they still been shooting?
Yeah. And they're editing now. What they're trying to get is some photos from the old TK studio, the original upstairs 8 track studio. If you can send out some kind of thing for people who might have some more of those....
I was thinkin' last night cause I didn't hear too much about it. I wonder in the movie. cause they're very excited about the TK 8 track studio. I gotta talk to Mark, but when the little TK Studio was first put up and started to go into operation, some of the first people to record there were the fuckin' Allman Brothers, man. That's pretty heavy.
I mean Duane and Gregg they were practically the first ones to record there. They were like living there. They had a little van, they were sleeping in the van and workin' like a house band in the studio. They cut sides with Steve Alaimo, and Steve was workin' with em' yaknow. I'm thinkin' they should really try to get some of that in the movie..
True, you had the Allman brothers, let alone Tom Petty startin out there with motherfuckin Mudcrutch.
And it's not even a maybe, man, cause we put out the LP with em. The Bold LP.
Bro, fuhgettaboutit. Steve wrote "Melissa." That shit is concrete in history but people don't realize where and when it happened.
So next time I talk to Mark I gotta mention that.
Yeah, thats' gotta be in there.
Steve can talk about it that he recorded the Bold LP, im tryin to rememeber what year it was. I know it was the late 60s before Betty Wright and Beaver were recording up there.
So this is like really when you really first built the studio.
Yeah, they recorded Duane and Gregg's album. And then they recorded a group called 31st of February with the drummer Butch Trucks who was later in the Allman Brothers Band. They had a song called "Sandcastles." So I wanna just make sure that they try to include that, cause they can skip over a lot of things in a movie this big. Even though I know they caught an awful lot. It's just one thing after another for over 65 years.
One thing after another for damn sure, but it would be really cool to have that rock element because with all the soul, with all the r&b, with all the gospel, with all the funk, with all the disco, with all the dance, with all the rap, with all the freesyle, rock and roll was still in there too. Not just a little bit, but major motherfuckers bro. One of the greatest guitar players of all time. In music history known.
Did you ever hear the story of the guy from Blood Sweat and Tears that came and did some stuff with us?
I know the band name.
Big name. He did some work with us, worked some stuff out with Steve.
Oh, man. Hold up. I know this guy. He played organ on "Like A Rolling Stone" with Bob Dylan right?
That fella, yup. I tried to hit him up that one time. I forgot his motherfuckin damn name though.
It'll come to ya
Anyway, he was drivin' somewhere in the South and he heard Betty Wright's "Cleanup Woman" on the radio yaknow. He hadda pull over and go buy it immediately. And then he got into Miami and got a hold of Steve and says "Can you introduce me to the three guitar players that are on that record?" So he introduced him to Little Beaver and siad "Here he is, the three guitar players." Whats his name? Pretty big name....
Yeah, that's a good story, and that guy made his own mark too in music...
Can't think of his name...Shoot
Not Krassner, but it sounds like that, sounds kinda like that....Al Kooper, with a K
There ya go. Nice guy too, very nice guy. Lotta shits comin up. Comin into my 93 birthday. I cant explain it, it's like all of a sudden. Lotta old shit is comin back from way back...
Oh yeah? The deep vaults? The super archives?
Other than the music thing. Things like I was tellin' my wife Inez. We were havin' watermelon. I said "I better not eat the seeds cause I remember they told me I'm gonna grow a watermelon tree in my stomach when i was a kid". Little crazy things like that.
Yeah yeah. Who first ever told you that?
I guess my motha. Hahaha.
My mom told me the same shit. With an orange.
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Hahahaha. It's good a lot of stuff is comin up. This guy Brian somethin was down here on my 90th birthday. He's Seymour Stein's buddy. He's doin' a whole thing on King Records so he been callin' me back and forth on the Rockin' and DeLuxe Records things I did with King, cause I'm the only one...he says "You're the only guy alive Henry."
It's true. You're the last man standin'. Greatest independent record man of all time.
King had a major organization. Out of the hundreds of people that worked for King way back then, he said, "You're the only one that's still alive." So I'm givin' him some old King stories with Henry Glover and Ralph Bass. It's amazing.