Great article about Henry Stone, TK records, George McCrae and “Rock Your Baby” by Mark Anthony Neal on PBS.org for the American Experience Songs of The Summer series.
So much epic information in there and of course an honor to see the Miami sound highlighted by a scholar on a national platform. So a big shout out and much respect to author Mr. Neal and PBS.
However, to clear up some misconceptions, at the time of “Rock Your Baby” in 1974, Stone had already established his Glades, Alston, and TK Records labels with million sellers on a worldwide basis. And the best musicians in Florida, and the country, had flocked to his studios since 1948, always eager to record. Another notable artist on “Rock Your Baby” is Jerome Smith, the guitar player who received $15 for his studio performance on the session, and went on to top the pop charts with five #1 hits with KC and The Sunshine Band. At the time that Jerome cut the track, it was one of over a hundred demos recorded by Harry Wayne Casey and Rick Finch. However, when Henry Stone heard this particular song he decided to release it just how it was.
Timmy Thomas recorded his million selling “Why Can’t We Live Together” on a Lowrey organ, an instrument with a primordial built in beat box, not the Roland TR-77 mentioned in the article. Rick Finch says it is this machine that was used for the beat on “Rock Your Baby.” Though to be sure, the message that a cheap drum machine at a little studio in Hialeah changed the world of music is absolutely right.
McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” was the first so-called “disco” hit to go #1 around the world, before the genre had been named, a feat made possible by a monster distribution deal negotiated along with Henry Stone by his lawyer Allen Grubman and RCA International. Stone’s powerhouse Tone Distributors handled the U.S., and RCA manufactured and shipped from Japan to Yugoslavia and everywhere in between. This helped the record vastly eclipse Hues Corporation’s “Rock The Boat” which came before it. “Rock Your Baby” is the first international #1 hit of its kind; it inspired legions of imitators, and more importantly party people on the dance floor.
Awesome article and look forward to more like it!!