Flamboyant music producer Huey Meaux dead at 82

Published 8:29 am Monday, April 25, 2011

Huey P. Meaux, the self-styled “Crazy Cajun” who discovered recording artists Doug Sahm and Barbara Lynn and revived the recording career of Freddy Fender before scandal and prison ended Meaux’s career, has died at the age of 82.

Meaux died Saturday morning of multiple organ failure at his home in the Southeast Texas rice-farming community of Winnie, about 60 miles east of Houston, according to his nephew, Larry Meaux Jr. According to his nephew, Meaux had lived quietly in his double-wide mobile home in Winnie since his release four years ago after spending 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a teenage girl.

It was the culmination of a wild lifestyle associated with Huey Meaux’s life in rock and roll, Larry Meaux Jr. said. After his release from prison, the longtime record producer told his nephew of that raucous lifestyle, “You know? It’s just not worth it.”

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But Larry Meaux Jr. said his uncle never lost his love of music. “You never know when a song might come on TV that he’d just really like,” he said.

Huey Meaux had been in declining health since a cleaning lady found him ill at his home in January, his nephew said. “He went very peacefully,” his nephew said of his death about 6 a.m. Saturday.

The funeral is scheduled for Saturday at Broussard’s Mortuary in Winnie.

Meaux was 12 when his father, a poor farmer who loved to play accordion, moved his family from southern Louisiana to Winnie. After his discharge from the Army and a stint in barber school, Meaux opened a shop in Winnie. He worked on the side as a radio disc jockey in nearby Port Arthur, forging contacts in the local music business that gave him his first experience at producing.

His big break as a producer came in 1962, when he produced “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” by Barbara Lynn Ozen of Beaumont, billed as Barbara Lynn.

In 1965, he moved to cash in on the British Invasion by building a faux-British rock band around San Antonio-born singer-songwriter Doug Sahm. The Sir Douglas Quintet dressed in the British mod fashion, down to the long hair and boots, but their sound was a hybrid all their own of Cajun, Tejano, country and rock and roll. Their biggest hit, “She’s About A Mover,” is a classic example.

Meaux produced B.J. Thomas’ first hit record, Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” when Thomas was a Houston teenager.

In the 1970s, he took a washed-up Tex-Mex performer from South Texas named Freddy Fender and produced his chart-topper “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and subsequent “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”

The end of the 1970s marked the end of Meaux’s peak. In 1996, police raided his leased studio in Houston and found hundreds of videotapes and photos of Meaux having sex with underage girls – most of them teenagers but one as young as 8. Police said they also found cocaine.

Meaux jumped bail and was arrested in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in 1996 to possession of child pornography and cocaine, bond jumping and sexual assault of a child. He was released four years ago.