In the 1970s, Miami's Henry Stone and TK Productions sold hundreds of millions of records around the world. Yes, hundreds of millions of records around the world.
TK was a humble eight-track studio in Hialeah operated by a close-knit team of musicians and songwriters. The family worked together on each other's songs and made huge hits.
This house of R&B dominated the global music market with a "Miami sound" that's never gotten its just due. But now, Grammy-nominated director Mark Moormann with Beacon Films is working on a feature film about Henry Stone, the local music mogul who made it all happen. And yesterday, some of the label's greatest hit-makers got together for a reunion at Audio Vision in North Miami and a scene in the movie.
The world knows Latimore for his monster hit "Let's Straighten It Out" (recently featured in a George Clooney tequila commercial), but as a great piano player, he also played keys on many other TK classics.
Henry Stone and son Joe Stone with movie crew.
Willie Clark and Clarence Reid compose the songwriting team that brought the world Betty Wright's million-selling "Cleanup Woman."
Willie "Little Beaver" Hale (left) is a guitarist so good that Jaco Pastorius used to hang out at TK just to watch him work. He's the man behind "Party Down," "Katie Pearl," and the crazy double riff that starts out "Cleanup Woman." Jimmie "Bo" Horne is the disco-funk master behind "Spank." And Paul Lewis, sax player, toured the world, dominating Billboard with KC & the Sunshine Band.
George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby" signifies disco music's first international hit record, which reached number one in 26 countries and sold more than 10 million copies in its first year. If you really listen, it's actually just a very danceable R&B song, and that's why it went so hard in the discotheques of the time.
"Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas (second from right) not only sold millions of copies but also was chosen as the official song for the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa and the ending of apartheid.
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As a 17-year-old kid, George "Chocolate" Perry (left) was given keys to the studio. His bass playing can be heard on most any song that came out of TK. He leveraged his work there into future endeavors with the Bee Gees; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and many others.
Henry Stone moved to Miami around 1948, and his story is intricately woven through the entire history of modern American recorded music, as well as the evolution of its sale, distribution, and promotion. He and his son Joe Stone are still going strong with Henry Stone Music.
Check out HenryStoneMusic.com.