Joe Stone on Radikal Records, Hot Productions, and Bringing Techno to America
Y'all ready for this? Dun dun, dun dun dun dun dun.
One of the most recognizable sports anthems in modern American sports history, 2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This" first arrived in this country in 1991, and nobody would play it on the radio.
Techno was virtually unheard of in the USA, but Miami's Hot Productions partnered with Germany's Radikal Records to license the hard-edged sounds of European electronica for manufacture, release, and distribution in North America. It ultimately resulted in a catalog totaling hundreds of techno releases that continues today. Here's how it all went down according to the son of TK Records' Henry Stone, Joe.
"So, I guess this was around 1990. It was before my group 2 Live Jews, which hit around the same time. Here's how it went.
"This guy Jurgen Korduletsch who was involved with Lisa Lisa Cult Jam and just a whole lot of records was from Germany and had been in the music business since the '70s with artists like Donna Summer. He knew my dad, Henry Stone real well from doing deals over the years.
"So, in like '91 or '92, we had this deal with Jurgen who had a connection to these guys in Holland, Belgium, Germany, and England who were producing this techno music that nobody had heard of in the U.S.
"At the same time, my good friend Frankie Bones who had produced a bunch of records in the '80s, and was a New York CIty DJ, was up in Manchester, England, working.
"He used to sleep on my floor when he was in Miami, or he and his girlfriend would crash on my couch. We made some pretty cool house records. So Frankie calls me up from Manchester and says, 'Yo, Stone, you gotta hear this fuckin' music over here. This techno shit is blowing up.'
"He sent a list of what records were hot, and we sent it to Jurgen, and he said we could get a lot of these guys label and licensing deals for North America. So we called up 2 Unlimited in Holland who had a record called Get Ready For This. I remember we wired this guy the money to license the record and got to work down here to break it.
via Hot Productions on Discogs.com Look at all those labels
"I took it to Funky Frank, who was the Program Director at Power 96. I'd known him for years. He was my boy when he was at Rhythm 98 and I'd brought him a lot of records through the years, from L'Trimm, to Gucci Crew, to B.O.S.E., he would put em' on. He would give anything a try.
"He took one listen to this techno record, looked at me and said, 'Joe, this is too fuckin' fast. It's 136 bpm with no verses. I can't play this!'
"I said, 'It's a hit. You gotta play it.'
"He said, 'That's nice, but it's too fast. I ain't playin it.'
"So nine or ten months go by and the same thing keeps happening with every DJ I go see all over the country. I'm ready to give up the fuckin' thing, but I really believe in the record. There's something magic about it that lifts my spirits every time I hear it. I just can't figure out why no one else can hear it.
"I take it to the clubs in NYC and they tell me they can't mix it with anything. Finally, I end up in California with this radio DJ called the Swedish Egil at a little Southern California radio station.
"When I walk in, the place reminds of a funky little station in Miami. I hand this guy Swedish Egil the record, he looks at me and says, 'Oh! I been waiting for this record! Thank you, I'm so glad you've brought it. I'm gonna break this record.'
"I thought he was messing with me. I thought he was full of shit. Here I'd been trying to get someone just to play it on the air for a year. And as I'm leaving the station I turn on the radio in my car and tune it to the station and he's playing 2 Unlimited, 'Get Ready For This.'
"Not too long after that, I get a call from a DJ in Texas who says, 'I got this record from the Eagle. We're gonna break it wide open.' Next call I get is from the San Antonio Spurs. They said, 'We wanna license this song to use on radio, TV, and in the stadium for the season.' We got a nice chunk of money, about $15,000, an autographed basketball, and a Rodman jersey.
"Within two months, it went Gold, and then it went Platinum. Now, everywhere you go, every stadium, every sporting event, for every sport, you hear that song. It became a massive anthem. And I broke that fuckin' record.
"Joe Stone broke that record, and Henry Stone and Hot Productions brought techno music to North America. We had hundreds upon hundreds of techno releases. We brought Apotheosis "O Fortuna," that was an early one.
"It was Hot and Radikal, we brought that shit here. There's no debating it. That's a fact.
"Hot Productions was one of the largest and most prolific indie liabels thorugh the '80s and '90s, based in South Florida. It was Henry Stone's second biggest thing after TK and it was alive for 17 years. We put out thousands of independent records.
"We had studios, we were able to really make opportunities available and give people careers. People that had midlevel careers still work through to this day thanks to that. And almost all of the TK Records artists came and recorded with us at Hot and attracted many of the other bigger indie producers from the '70s and '80s because Henry Stone had a good reputation and we were able to put things together, and distribute, and manufacture.
"When vinyl was king and CDs became the norm, HOT Productions was there for it.
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