Henry Stone, a fixture on the R&B and disco scene who was instrumental in the careers of Ray Charles, James Brown and KC & the Sunshine Band, has died. He was 93.
Stone, a co-founder of the famed TK Records, died Thursday of natural causes at a Miami-area hospital, the funeral home Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapels confirmed.
Stone opened up a record-distribution business and recording studio in South Florida in 1948 and within a few years recorded his first artist, a pianist-singer from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind who would later become the legendary Ray Charles.
Stone’s hits were on TK Records, which he co-founded with Steve Alaimo in 1972, and similar labels he founded. They included: “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It)”, “Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty)”, “I’m Your Boogie Man” for KC & the Sunshine Band and “Ring My Bell” for Anita Ward, The Miami Herald reported.
Stone released Otis Williams and the Charms’ No. 1 R&B hit, “Heart of Stone”, in 1954. He was also instrumental in signing James Brown and the Famous Flames, earning the hit, “Please, Please, Please,” which topped the R&B in 1956.
TK went bankrupt in 1981, but Stone pursued his passion with other production companies, finding an off-beat hit in 1990 with novelty act 2 Live Jews and its album, “As Kosher As They Wanna Be”, a parody of 2 Live Crew that featured Stone’s actor, songwriter-producer son, Joseph Stone.
“One of the biggest lessons he taught me was how to listen better and how to live in this moment,” his son told The Miami Herald. “He had an incredible sense of principle and kindness and understanding.”
Stone’s love for music started as a teen when he played trumpet while growing up in an orphanage in Pleasantville, New York. During World War II, he served in the Army and played trumpet in a racially integrated band and developed an appreciation of what were called “race records.” Three decades later, the biggest payoff of his career came with the racially-integrated KC & the Sunshine Band.
The group’s co-founder, Harry Wayne “KC” Casey, said he started recording bits of music when the studio was free while working part-time at TK Records.
Casey co-wrote “Rock Your Baby” with Richard Finch in 1974 and it became the songwriters’ first No. 1 pop single for TK when singer George McRae recorded the hit version.
Casey said Stone was his “mentor” and “believed in me when no one else did.”