TLC's T-Boz and Chilli talk record label's initial reaction to signature hit 'Waterfalls'
With TLC set to begin the group’s “Celebration of CrazySexyCool” nation tour next month, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas are reflecting on their classic 1994 album.
During a recent interview with Billboard, the artists shared that their record label didn’t want to release what became their signature hit from the record, “Waterfalls.”
T-Boz said Clive Davis, the then-president of Arista Records, which distributed their label, LaFace Records, “didn’t really care for [‘Waterfalls’] or see the vision.”
T-Boz credits TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes,” who died in 2002, for leading their campaign to convince LaFace president L.A. Reid to finance the video.
“Lisa had great handwriting, so we wrote this letter begging L.A. to put up the money if Arista didn’t, to give us this one shot to do this amazing video that everybody would love and would bring this song to life — and he said, ‘OK,'” T-Boz recalled.
“Then Arista got behind it and was like, ‘My bad, y’all were right,'” she added.
The group’s album “CrazySexyCool” eventually was certified Diamond, notching over 10 million sales, while “Waterfalls” spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune’s iconic video won four MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year.
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Despite becoming the best-selling girl group in music history, TLC failed to reap the financial rewards they expected, and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1995. Chili told Billboard that their faith allowed them to overcome their bad contracts and continue their career.
“Being believers in Christ, during any hardships, we always prayed and stayed hopeful and God blessed us,” she said. “It was a lesson learned for us, and hopefully other artists learned as well with us sharing that.”
TLC’s “CrazySexyCool Celebration” tour featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony kicks off Sept. 3 in Albertville, Alabama, and runs through Oct. 10 in Concord, California.
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