The legacy of SugarHill Recording Studios is now documented for posterity with the release of the book, House of Hits: The Story of Houston’s Gold Star/SugarHill Recording Studios.
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Houston native and music legend Johnny Nash made a long awaited return to music after a spotlight hiatus, at SugarHill Recording Studios
Naturally, The Rolling Stones connection to SugarHill started with a song . In 1964 the band covered “Oh Baby (We’ve Got A Good Thing Goin’)” on their album Rolling Stones Now!. The song was penned Barbara Lynn whose hit “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” was produced by SugarHill’s Huey Meaux and topped the Billboard charts in 1962.
As a result, Huey Meaux met the Stones in Philadelphia in 1965. Brian Jones is reported to have said “You are the originators and creators of the blues, Mr. Meaux. We just perfect it.” The Stones and Meaux made contact again in Houston in July of ’66.
The Stones fascination with the origins of the blues eventually led to their booking two weeks recording time at SugarHill. What was recorded during these sessions remains a mystery as the band took their masters and track sheets with them when they left.
The Stones would return to The Hill many years later during their ’78 tour to record a demo for an upcoming album project. Photo by The Houston Chronicle.
In late ’75 and early ’76, working around gaps in the the touring schedule for Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Todd Rundgren moved into SugarHill to work on his 1976 release “Faithful”. Faithful was a unique project celebrating the past and future. One side of the record was made up of original material and the other side included covers (recreations is a better word) of classic tunes by The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds and Bob Dylan.
Rundgren had chosen SugarHill because of it’s arsenal of working vintage recording tech. Among those tools was a well maintained Telefunken U-47 microphone, a tube console, natural reverb chambers and more. He needed these tools to faithfully reproduce the techniques used on the original recordings. Todd ran his own sessions, played all the instruments and did all the vocals. Any additional engineering work was handled by Mickey Moody.
During these sessions Todd’s uncanny doppleganger of “Good Vibrations” was put to tape. When the album was released, disc jockeys would run contests to see if listeners could distinguish the Rundgren version from the Beach Boy’s original. The grand piano in Studio A also makes several appearances on the record.
Freddy Fender’s “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart at No. 1. The song was recorded at SugarHill and produced by Huey Meaux. The single remained at No. 1 until August 16th when it was dethroned by Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”.
During this flurry of garage rock, BJ Thomas recorded a portion of his first hit album called “Tomorrow Never Comes” on Scepter Records. The album went Gold.
Billy Gibbons from ZZTop’s first band. Engineer- Jim Duff
Engineer – Jim Duff
Don Robey’s record label also recorded a large number of songs during that time, notably O.V. Wright’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry”, another Billboard hit. Other artists recording during that time are Junior Parker, Buddy Ace, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Joe Hinton.
The Pozo Seco Singers also recorded their one and only hit record “Time”. Pozo Seco singer Don Wiliams, would later have a successful career as a country singer.
The engineers at this time were Doyle Jones, Bill Holford, Bert Frilot, Bob Lurie (who was also the main master cutting engineer) and Lewis Stevenson (Mastering Engineer/Repair Technician)
Roy Head and The Traits came to Gold Star and recorded “Treat Her Right” which reached #1 on the R’n’B charts and number #2 on the pop charts (loosing the number one spot to the The Beatles’ “Help” followed by “Yesterday”).