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Controversial Producer Huey Meaux Dead At 82

Correction: Meaux was actually arrested at his home and escorted to SugarHill by the Houston Police Department.

Huey P. Meaux, the onetime studio and record-label owner and chart-topping producer who helped define the Gulf Coast sound through hits by the Sir Douglas Quintet, Freddy Fender and Barbara Lynn, died this morning at age 82.

Known as the "Crazy Cajun," Meaux died at his home in Winnie, his nephew told the Houston Chronicle.

Meaux was born March 10, 1929 in a small rice-farming community near Lafayette, La., and moved to Winnie at age 12. He played drums, with his father on accordion, as a teenager and worked as a disc jockey in the Beaumont area, where he met musicians George Jones and Moon Mullican and became friends with J.P. Richardson, a fellow DJ known as the Big Bopper.

Starting in the late '50s, Meaux produced several hits, many in the swooning R&B-lite regional style known as "swamp pop": Jivin' Gene's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" - on which Meaux told writer Joe Nick Patoski he achieved the distinctive echo effect by "sticking Gene back in the shitter, surrounded by all that porcelain" - Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose a Good Thing," Joe Barry's "I'm a Fool to Care," Rod Bernard's "This Should Go on Forever," T. K. Hulin's "As You Pass Me By Graduation Night," and Big Sambo and the Housewreckers' "The Rains Came."

After the Beatles touched off the British Invasion, Meaux became convinced he could find a group from Texas to cash in on the sound, and did on the west side of San Antonio. Dressing up Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Jack Barber, Frank Morin and Johnny Perez in mod suits and fashionably long hair, Meaux created the Sir Douglas Quintet, which had a Top 10 hit with "She's About a Mover" in 1965.

For many years Meaux's base of operations was SugarHill Studios, which he bought in the early 1970s, and where he brought Freddy Fender to record "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," which topped the country and pop charts in 1975.

Meaux eventually sold SugarHill, but continued to lease an office there. It was there he was brought by the Houston Police Department and forced to reveal his hidden "playroom" containing "a physician's examining table, complete with gynecological stirrups, and just under 15 grams of cocaine in one of the drawers... there were also a king-size bed and a dozen or so sex toys nearby," as the Houston Press' Steve McVicker wrote - after his arrest on child pornography, sex with a minor, and drug trafficking charges in January 1996.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray