Farewell Henry Stone and Thanks for All the Funk

A note from the Publisher:

For the past 10 years, most of my time in Miami, I have had both the honor and the pleasure of working for an amazing music man, Henry Stone, owner of, amongst many others, TK Records. When I joined the company, he was in his early 80’s, having gone blind a few years earlier. My job was to help them aggregate and digitize the historic releases from his labels from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and up into the 80s. We also created new releases, about a half dozen new albums, all while he was closing in on the century mark.

In my opinion, no one has had such a profound impact on the music scene in Miami. He also had a significant impact on the music across the country, both as a hit-making distributor, and a pioneering label owner. Over the course of 60+ years, his labels released many thousands of tracks recorded right here in the Magic City. His labels contributed more to the distribution of that Caribbean Miami sound than any other, especially in the early days, and had an influence on music world-wide. He was a key influencer in R&B, Funk, Soul, and, of course, Disco.

Despite his success, he never parlayed that into being a mega-rich oligarch. He never moved off to LA or New York. He stayed right here in Miami, bringing that sound to the world. He shared that wealth and gave so many people a chance that otherwise would not have had it.

I never knew him in his heyday, but I did know his music. I grew up on that music. However, knowing him for the last 10 years of his life was very rewarding. I got to hear his stories, stories of the history of the music, over and over, until I could recite many of them better than he. I learned about the music business, and most importantly its history, direct from the source. He lived through the height of the 45, through the dominance of the album, to the debut of the CD and on into the time of digital downloads. He really saw it all. Very few people had his perspective, and he was on top of it right up to the end.

He passed away August 7, 2014, quietly. He never lost his sharp mind or wit, which was amazing. He was a great man, and all Miamians, all music lovers, owe him gratitude for all of the fantastic musicians he produced out of our city. Music would not be what it is today without his influence. It was unfortunate he did not live to see the completion of his biographical movie, but it will be released in a few months, and we are very excited about honoring his work and his life.

I am very glad to have known him. He taught me more than just about the music business, he taught me about being a good human and businessperson. His skill at working with people was second to none. Many were the times I saw him take a negative situation and turn it positive. He was generous almost to a fault and many the times I joked that he was too nice to be in the music business, but, of course, I was wrong. He really did inject so much funk and soul into this world, and for that, I am eternally thankful.

Thank you to the Miami New Times, Miami Herald and another Miami Herald for these wonderful obituary articles honoring the life of this man who made his way up from being an orphan in the Bronx to being a pillar in the music business and the community.

Below is the official press release and coming soon is the Henry Stone documentary movie, Rock Your Baby.

– James Echols
Co-Founder and Publisher, Soul Of Miami

(PS: A small sidenote: the name of this site, Soul Of Miami, was inspired by my working at Henry Stone Music and feeling all Miami Soul music.)

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Henry Stone was born June 3, 1921, in Bronx, New York to parents Leah Goldstein and Charles Epstein. He was raised in Washington Heights, NY. Henry passed away August 7, 2014. Henry was preceded in death by his parents, brother Allen and sister Rosamond.

Henry began playing the trumpet in his early teens while at an orphanage in Pleasanteville, NY. Henry joined the US Army in 1943, playing in a racially integrated band. Henry served in the US Army stationed at Fort Dix in New Brunswick, NJ and was discharged in 1947. He then moved to Los Angeles working on sales and promotion for early record labels.

In 1948, Henry settled in Miami, Florida, setting up his own distribution company, Seminole, and shortly afterwards the Crystal recording studio. In 1951 he recorded Ray Charles’ “St. Pete Florida Blues”, among others. In 1952 he started two record labels Rockin for blues and Glory for Gospel. In association with King Records, Stone released The Charms’ “Heart of Stone” on King’s De Luxe Records, and it became R&B chart #1 in 1954. He was instrumental in signing James Brown to King and in recording Brown’s first hit, “Please, Please, Please”.

In 1955, he established his own independent publishing companies and several record labels, including Chart and Dade, mainly recording local blues artists. In 1960, Stone cut “(Do The) Mashed Potatoes” by
“Nat Kendrick and the Swans”- actually James Brown’s backing band – for the Dade label. He also set up Tone Distribution, which became one of the most successful record distribution companies, working with Atlantic, Mowtown, Stax and many more independent labels. Stone’s distribution expertise was instrumental in spreading the music produced by those labels around the world.

While he focused on the distribution business, Stone also continued to record R&B artists. These included Betty Wright, whose “Clean UP Woman” was a major hit in 1971. Stone also set up the Glades Label, recording the million selling “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas.

In 1972, Stone decided to concentrate on recording and manufacturing his own records, forming another new record company, TK Records with Steve Alaimo, based in Hialeah, Florida. In 1973, two of Stones warehouse employees, Harry Wayne “KC” Casey and Rick Finch, began collaborating on writing and performing songs. As KC and the Sunshine Band, they released a string of hits such as “Get Down Tonight, “That’s The Way I Like It” and “Shake Your Booty”, all on Stone’s TK label. At the same time, Casey and Finch wrote and produced the number one “Rock Your Baby” which was performed by George McCrae.

Stone’s companies produced numerous other hits during the 1970’s, including Beginning of the End’s “Funky Nassau”, Latimore’s “Let’s Straighten It Out”, Anita Wards “Ring My Bell”, Little Beaver’s “Party Down”, and Gwen McCrea’s “Rockin’ Chair”, Peter Brown’s “Do You Want to Get Funky With Me” and Bobby Calwell’s “What Won’t You Do For Love”.

Stone later became involved with Hot Productions in the reissue of classics on CD and recently continued reissuing R&B and dance tracks on his own label, The Legendary Henry Stone Presents… In 2004, Henry Stone was awarded the first ever Pioneer Award for the Dance Music Hall of Fame, which was presented in New York City where he received a standing ovation.

In 2006, Henry became involved with The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and started a music production program, the first of its kind, to provide professional training to the blind and visually impaired young performers, composers and sound engineers. In 2007, the new Gloria Martin third floor wing opened which houses the Henry and Inez Stone Music and Sound Studio.

Henry is survived by his wife Inez Stone; his daughter Lynda Stone and husband Ned Berndt; daughter Sheri and husband Ken Watson; daughter Crystal and Bill McCall; daughter Kim Stone; and son David Stone; their grandchildren Lysa Stone, Beth Stone, Shon and Carolyn (Keelin and Ryan) Christi, Mac and Stephanie (on the way), Daniel and Jamie Osiason.

He is also survived by his son Joseph Stone and his children, Brenna, Skyler, Torrin and Darcee; and by his daughter Donna and husband Evan Wolfe and their son Jake, and Inez’s brother Harrison Keith Pinchot, MD who will always be greatfull for Henry’s generosity for putting him through medical school.

Our family would like to thank all those who provided love and support during these difficult times.

Thank you for using Soul Of Miami!
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