Ginger Jordan

TLC reveals that Arista Records initially rejected their signature hit, “Waterfalls”

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With TLC set to begin their CrazySexyCool celebration tour next month, T-Boz and Chili have shared some recollections about their classic 1994 album with Billboard, including that their record label didn’t want to release what became their signature hit from the record, “Waterfalls.”

T-Boz recalls that 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 passed away 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, ‘Okay,'” T-Boz recalls. “Then Arista got behind it and was like, ‘My bad, y’all were right.'”

CrazySexyCool eventually was certified Diamond for notching over 10 million sales, while “Waterfalls” spent seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune’s iconic video won four MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year.

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 says 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 says. “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 September 3 in Albertville, Alabama, and runs through October 10 in Concord, California.