The TK Connection

CAN YOU tell meabout the creation and demise of TK Records? “How T K came about was that distribution was going to be done by record companies , so I was out of a job. Instead of putting ‘Live Together’ by Timmy Thomson Atlantic, I put the record on T K. Then I thought why not get the Alston label and Betty Wright back from Atlantic as they were doing nothing with them. “The way the name T K came about was that the initials were of Terry Kane, the builder of Hialeah building. At the time, Harry Casey and Rick Finch worked for me – Casey was always with Clarence Reid and Finch was doing things by himself, so I got them together. They would wait until Steve Alaimo and Clarence had finished with say, Betty Wright and Gwen McCrae, there, they would go into the studio and fool around. They came up with an instrumental which I loved, which was later called ‘Rock Your Baby’ by George McCrae. That session took an hour and the record sold six million worldwide. Then came K.C. And The Sunshine Band – Rick Finch was the real driving force behind, the group and its hits. The rosta of artists was totally consistent with disco, Peter Brown, T. Connection, Foxy, Jimmy ‘Bo’ Home and Benny Latimore. With TK ‘s success in disco, CBS wanted to buy the company for $17.5 million, then withdrew the Keele Road, Newcastle, Staffs Robin Black taIks to Henry Stone, founder of Miami’ legendary soul label TK. pix: Robin Black What have you been doing since? Henry Stone, with proof of yet another million seller. ” I still distribute records via HOT. I’m still looking for real talent, which why Jerry ‘Swamp Dog Williams covers the West Coast for me, as well all contacts on East Coast and the South offer after hearing that disco was dead and that retailers had already begun to ship back tons of unsold albums. It led to the record industry crash of ’79 leaving 20,000 people out of work . In 1981 there was a fire which destroyed my warehouse. All master tapes were destroyed, so it was really the end of TK .” Distribution in the record business has been very important to you. “Yes. From 194 7 onwards from initially selling records to jukebox operators from the trunk of my car, I eventually settled in Miami. Distribution was new then and I had to make a living as I had a family to support. “I was the first distributor for Atlantic, we grew up together. If I found talented acts we could not put out, we had to place with Atlantic, Stax or Motown. For example Betty Wright’s ‘Clean Up Woman’ and Clarence Reid’s ‘No One But You’. I discovered Sam and Dave who went to Atlantic, but I had to stipulate with Jerry Wexler that I have always been into writers/producers . I installed Hayes and David Porter and I still receive royalties to this day. In those days all the majors would send me acetates and dubs of R&B with crossover potential – Miami was a testing ground, if it got response here, the record would sell Stateside. “I have always had my own studio even when in distribution. I cut Ray Charles (Rock In label) and B. B. King for Chess, but they were never released. With King Records I spent a lot of time with Hank Ballard. His contract was due to finish and agreed on condition that I produced him. We recorded in an armoury with portable equipment , cutting sides like ‘Annie Had A Baby’ . “Then Hank started to sing a blues version of ‘The Twist’ . I felt that could be better with· a dance tempo, so I sent the song to Chess with half publishing rights to me. “The recording could not be distributed as Chess were being sued as well as myself by King because they insisted that Hank was still with them, thus the release of ‘The Twist’ on King, just after Chubby Checker was appearing at The Palms again, so I got in touch with him and was told to take the song to his producer Carl Mann. The rest is history.” I believe you were in New York for the ‘Coming Out Party’ for James Brown; what is your connection with him “I literally found James. He had a record out in Augusta, so we had to check him out. We were based on the West Coast at the time – I owned Delux Records with Sid Nathan and also represented King/Federal Records with Ralph Bass. Ralph arrived a day earlier than myself and signed James to King. I did a lot at the beginning and James knew it. I got him down here when he was brand new at the Palms which was a very big club where all the hot acts appeared like Aretha, Ray Charles and Joe Turner. James would ring me once a month whilst in jail regarding his future after prison.” As you know rap is very popular, my first involvement w as ‘Wicky Wicky ‘ by Nucleus which sold well; was also involved with Sunnyview Records who have artists like Voyage an Claudja Barry. Present records doing we here are Triangle feature in, Loleatta Holloway on JackPot Records with ‘Set MFree (Do That To Me)’, ‘Read My Lips’ also on JackPot Records, and Cold Jam with ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life on Radical. My most recent signing h Eddie Holloway on the Ho· Blues label who has a single out called ‘ I Had A Good Time’.”

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