Editor’s Note: Huey P. Meaux died April 23, 2011, at the age of 82. The notorious music producer had been in poor health for several months.
“I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT, BRUDDAH,” HUEY MEAUX said to me. The man who was once the single most important figure in popular music in Texas was sitting on an aluminum stool in the squalid fifth-floor visiting room of the Harris County jail. This was his first interview since he was arrested—charged with child pornography, having sex with minors, and cocaine possession—and then recaptured after jumping bail and spending a month on the lam.
The 67-year-old Meaux winked at me and gestured at the round metal speakerphone as if it were bugged. “I just can’t say anything right now, bruddah,” he said. His voice was subdued, though still laced with a thick Cajun accent. But the fear in his eyes, the tentative glances, the snow-white hair and eyebrows (which he used to dye dark brown), the scraggly beard—this was not the colorful, larger-than-life producer of dozens of Top Ten hits I had known for 22 years. This was the Huey Purvis Meaux I’d been reading about in the newspapers and had seen on television. The one with the sordid double life he had hidden from almost everyone.
“If I’d known you were coming by, I would’ve cleaned up,” he said, scratching his chin and cracking a slight smile.
I tried small talk. Had he heard any young talent in the joint?
“No, man, they’ve got me locked up in solitary under protective custody,” he replied. It was for his own safety. No one likes a child pornographer, even in jail.
Solitary was rough. “No TV, no books, no nothing, except a Bible. I’m studying the Bible. I figure it’s something I could learn a few things about.” They all come around sooner or later, I thought.
When I mentioned his son, Ben, who had first alerted the Houston police to his father’s drug use and sexual activities, Meaux shook his head. “I can’t even say his name.”
He looked and acted so pathetic that I hardly recognized him. He slowly began rising from the stool. “Time’s about up and I don’t want to give them a reason to come down on me,” he said. “Come see me when I get to Huntsville.”
If I wanted to find out what happened to Huey P. Meaux, I’d have to look somewhere else.
THE MAN WHO CALLED HIMSELF THE CRAZY CAJUN WAS VULGAR, brash, and always outrageous. His “thing,” he was quick to let anyone around him know, was “young chicks.” The drugs the police found in his office weren’t a surprise; he was no stranger to illicit substances. But in the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, his roguish behavior only enhanced his legend as a musical wizard—the man behind more hits made in Texas and Louisiana in the last half of the twentieth century than anyone else. It was quite an accomplishment for a former barber from Winnie, Texas, who made the transition from “cutting hair to cutting hits,” as he used to tell me, with little education or musical training. But he had a gift for matching a voice