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Friday, August 15, 2014

Boogie Man

Henry David Epstein was born in the Bronx and grew up in northern Manhattan. His father, a salesman, died when Henry was a boy. His mother, a destitute seamstress, placed Henry in an orphanage. There the the boy heard a record of Louis Armstrong and took up the trumpet.
He served in the Army during World War II, playing in a band. After his discharge, he changed his last name to Stone. He made a living by peddling records to restaurants and bars for their jukeboxes. In Miami he recorded a handful of songs. One of them was performed by a young blind singer, then known as Ray Charles Robinson, who would later go by the name Ray Charles. On his De Luxe Records, he recorded “Hearts of Stone” by the Charms, which reached No. 1 on several rhythm-and-blues charts. By now Mr. Stone was an established producer who recorded several rhythm-and-blues artists in the 1960s.  When most major labels decided to distribute only their own product, he was forced to set up his own company, TK Records. This company, which Mr. Stone ran with Steve Alaimo, a former pop singer, grew to become one of the industry’s largest independent labels during the disco era.
Its biggest hit makers were KC and the Sunshine Band, whose leader, Harry Wayne Casey, was a part-time employee at the company before the band began turning out a string of hits, including “Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty),” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “That’s the Way I Like It” — uh-huh, uh-huh — and “Get Down Tonight.” But the company and its subsidiary labels also released successful records by other artists — among them George McRae, Benny Latimore, Timmy Thomas, Betty Wright and Anita Ward — whose upbeat melding of funk, soul and disco came to be identified as the Miami sound.
Henry Stone died last week in Miami. He was 93.
(Based on the NYT obituary by Bruce Weber)

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