SugarHill Studios, A House of Hits

House of Hits book coverHouse of Hits by Andy Bradley and Roger Wood from University of Texas Press is a exhaustively well researched history of what is believed to be the oldest recording facility in the United States (no other facility has been able to disclaim the theory to date). We are talking about what began in 1941 as Gold Star Studios, now SugarHill Studios, located in southeast Houston.

Besides a long roster of historically important artists, SugarHill Recording Studios was home to the recording of over one hundred Billboard Top 40 charting hits.

Freddy Fender’s classic hit, “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” recorded for Crazy Cajun label owner Huey P. Meaux, became the first bi-lingual crossover hit to chart on both the country and pop charts simultaneously.

According to the book, Houston (not Nashville as is widely believed) was part of a nexus called the “Golden Triangle” and encompassed a multitude of genres of music, including Zydeco, Blues, Country, and R&B.

SugarHill Recording Studios was home to the first recorded Zydeco song, “Zologo” by Lightnin’ Hopkins, as well as the first Zydeco record, Clifton Chenier’s album Louisiana Blues and Zydeco.

The studio served as the home of many recording labels like Huey P. Meaux’s Crazy Cajun label, International Artists, Starday, Duke, D, Peacock, BackBeat and Discos MM.

Co-author Andrew Bradley conducted nearly 100 interviews from a cross section of players in the industry including engineers, studio musicians, recording artists, label owners, and staff to give a complete narrative to the time line of the studios. House of Hits includes many rare and never-before-seen photographs of musicians and studio staff in sessions.

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