Henry Stone Talks Turning 93

Courtesy of Henry Stone Music
The Godfather and the legendary Mr. Stone.

Henry Stone
first met James Brown in about 1954, when King Records founder Syd Nathan told both him and Ralph Bass to race to Macon, Georgia, to sign the R&B singer to a record deal.

Bass got there a day before Stone and inked the contract with James Brown for Federal Records (a King subsidiary). But the funkiest man in the history of music and Stone connected the next day, becoming lifelong friends. The James Brown movie won't include Henry, but it damn well should.

Today is Henry Stone's 93rd birthday. He was born in the Bronx on June 3, 1921. He moved to Miami in 1948. And he has lived here ever since, becoming the greatest living figure of independent Miami music

Happy birthday Stone! Here's what the razor-sharp 93 year old had to say the Saturday before his cumpleaños.

See also: Latimore Talks Joining The Roots and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show

Crossfade: So, we were just talking about Latimore being on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots a couple of weeks ago. What were you saying about that?
Henry Stone: Well, they held up my Best of Latimore CD with my picture on it and a lot of people got a big kick out of that. They took the CD and made it like a big mockup record and Jimmy held it up a couple of times. We've been selling a ton of those Latimores on Amazon and stuff since that show came out.

Hell yeah. People are getting re-familiarized with some songs that have been stuck in their heads for their whole lives.
So that's what we're concentrating on. We're not concentrating on making up CDs and selling 'em cause there's no place to sell 'em. Like I say, our biggest accounts are all gone. But we're doing something about it. A lot of guys that I know have just folded like, "Fuck it, we gotta get out."

How many independents you seen buckle under the pressure over your career?
Quite a few, man. And this is the new batch. Y'know, it costs a lot of money to put these things out, to press 'em, and distribute 'em, and promote 'em. And if you go into a studio and you record, you could record for a 100 or 200 bucks. But the average guy who is known, they go in with a band, background singers, the whole works, and a session can cost anything from 15 to 20 thousand dollars. And that's not a lot.

We used to have sessions for $50,000. But we had ways of recouping that money 'cause we were selling millions of pieces of catalog. But now there's no way unless you're Jay-Z or Beyoncé or one of the top 15 people that go straight to Target, Walmart. Actually, I know for a fact from [music executives] Barry Weiss and Doug Morris, which I know both of them very well, I know that they're not givin' any more advances to young guys that are makin' good records. You gotta come up with your own money.

You know Jimmy Iovine at all? What do you think about his big Beats deal?
Yeah, very well. My office was right next to him when I had my office in New York. He was an up-and-coming record guy at the time in the '70s and he had an office right close to mine. I used to meet him for lunch every once in a while. But he's a big man now with Dr Dre. Three fuckin' billion dollas, man. That's fuckin' crazy.

Imagine, $3,000,000,000.000 fuckin' billion dollas, man. Whatever he did was smart. Hey, his company has always been a top-two company for the past five years. And they been distributed by Universal and everything. But his company has been hot -- hit after hit after hit, rap artist after rap artist went through his company.

He musta learned something from you.
Well, I dunno about that.

Some kind of influence ...
Anyway. The bottom line is the changes are so severe. But I'm on top of it, rather than cry, "Oh what are we gonna do?" We're hustling licensing, getting quite a few licensing around the world.

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