Underground Studio Cuts Hit Records – Fort Lauderdale News (1974)

SUNDAY SEPT. 22, 1974
Underground Studio Cuts Hit Records
Entertainment Writer

There is an underground movement in South Florida that has nothing to do with politics, racism or any controversial topic. It is, however, something that could put this area on the map. Hidden in the industrial center of. Hialeah is T.K. Productions, 49S SE 10 Court, a recording company responsible for a number of million-selling records. Headed by former rock star Steve Alaimo and Henry Stone, the company has produced Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together,” Betty Wright’s “The Cleanup Woman,” George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” and two gold record contenders, Latimore’s “Let’s Straighten It Out” and Little Beaver’s “Party Down.” It’s a miniature Motown, where musician, walk around in dungarees and tee shirts, sit with Alaimo in Stone’s large, plush office or go upstairs to a small nondescript studio and jam. The only thing special about the place is the music. It’s original work by hometown artists entering a field where -the beat is boogie and blues. And the hits are coming in so fast that no one really knows what is happening. “I don’t mind people not realizing what la happening here,” Alaimo said. “This way it stays In the family.” “The family” has its patriarch Henry Stone, a bearded grey haired man In his fifties who helped Alaimo early in his career. Alaimo at the time had graduated from the University of Miami and decided against entering the medical profession (he was a pre-med major). Instead, he stayed with what he loved, music. Stone helped him get club dates. Dick Clark catapulted him to fame on his number one afternoon network television program, “Where the Action Is.” Alaimo cut a hit single, “You Don’t Know Like I Know,” and starred in a film called “Wild Rebels.” “You can say that I did it all,” he said in his Hialeah office, “but what I realized was that to be a superstar takes dedication that I didn’t have. I didn’t like going on the road that much to give it my life.” The singer also had a problem. He was a soul brother singing black songs before it was fashionable. Later a man named Tom Jones would make the crossover, but then things were difficult, The whites weren’t ready for his kind of slow beat, funky message music. He was good but not deemed great enough to push him over to the greener side of the grass. And blacks didn’t take to a white man singing their kind of music. In Miami, he was accepted. Take ~ out of the city and black stations would not play his records, he said, not if they knew he needed to get a sunburn in order to get a dark tan. ‘Prejudice works two ways,” he said. At the time Alaimo was deciding he wanted to get off the road, Stone offered him ‘a chance to become part of his record production company. That was almost two years ago. Because the 34-year-old singer has roots in the blues and knew the talent living, breathing but unexplored in South Florida, he was more than a little excited about getting into the production end of the business. “Stone taught me everything he knows and then let me have as much freedom as I needed,” Alaimo laid “He is responsible for me.” And Alaimo is responsible for people like Betty Wright, Latimore, McCrae, Little Beaver and Timmy Thomas whose music is more well known than their names. “We opened up the doors of the studio and just let the people come in,” Alaimo said. “They came, with original material and unusual music. This is the part I like, taking something good into the recording studio and creating a record. It is exciting.” Though he doesn’t Intend to ever go on the road as a performer again, Alaimo said he would consider cutting a record. “When I’m ready,” he added. What people don’t realize, Alaimo said, it’s how many name artists have recorded In South Florida. At Criteria Studios in North Dade, outside record companies use the facilities. Among those who have recorded there are Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, the Allman Brothers and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. With Criteria profiting by leasing its facilities and T.K. making money with its own artists, the music market is tightly controlled. And there are other recording studios in the area, perhaps without million sellers or major market material but able to survive. It wouldn’t bother Alaimo at all if no one knew the origin of his records. The talent in South Florida could become as well known as its oranges and as much in demand. He doesn’t mind selling the end product, but would like to keep the fruit bearing tree in his own backyard. T.K. PRODUCTIONS • 495 S.E. 10th Court• Hialeah, Florida 33010

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