The death of legendary - and genuinely kinked-up - record producer Huey P. Meaux is a time of mixed emotions for SugarHill Studios co-owner and chief engineer Andy Bradley. Bradley began working with Meaux in 1984 and eventually bought the studios with a group of investors.
"Like so many people, Huey gave me maybe the biggest break I ever had when he accepted my proposal to come work for him, and we did some cool stuff," says Bradley, "But on the other hand, I've never forgiven him for the pedophile business."
Bradley is referring to Meaux's 1996 arrest and conviction for sex and drug crimes. Like a lot of engineers, he isn't prone to much hyperbole.
"Huey was just good at what he did," says Bradley matter-of-factly. "And so many people owe him their starts or their careers, people like Archie Bell, Roy Head, Freddy Fender. Whatever he may have done, Huey helped a lot of people."
Bradley also recalls nuggets of wisdom he picked up from his former mentor.
"We'd be having a cup of coffee before a session would start and Huey would always say, 'After the song, the next most important thing on a record is the promoter.' And as much as I might've wished that it was the singer or the sidemen or technicians, Huey was essentially right. And he was a fabulous promoter."
"But I think his rarest gift was his ability to hear a hit song."
Meaux's hits included Sir Douglas Quintet's smash "She's About A Mover," "Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose A Good Thing," "Talk To Me" by Sunny and the Sunliners, "Big Blue Diamonds" by Gene Summers, and a truckload of hits by Fender including "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," the first bilingual Billboard No. 1 record.
Bradley notes that Meaux remained embittered to the end.
"Huey just never forgave anyone for what happened to him, even though he pleaded guilty," he says. "He blamed everyone but himself for what happened. He was just mad at the world. It was very sad to watch."
Bradley notes that Meaux's wife has control of Music Enterprises, the company that owns Meaux's publishing.
"She's managed that well, and right now we are seeing a resurgence of interest in Huey's recordings," says Bradley, who offices across the hall from the SugarHill tape vault.
"Just last week we had two guys in from Ace Records of the UK, and they were listening and cataloging what they plan to repackage and release."
Many of the tracks will be remixed and remastered, says Bradley
Dr. Roger Wood, who worked with Bradley in authoring the definitive history of SugarHill Studios, told us at the time the book was released that his biggest disappointment was that Meaux refused to cooperate with the authors after initially seeming warm to the idea. Bradley confirms.
"Huey got the idea he was going to be in control of the book," Bradley notes. "And of course, what we were writing was something we wanted to be absolutely historically accurate. Huey actually wrote a foreword for the book that we ended up not using."
Meaux's funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Winnie.
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