“If I’d known you were coming by, I would’ve cleaned up,” he said, scratching his chin and cracking a slight smile. 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.“I don’t own the place,” Huey replied before going silent for the rest of the drive to the studio in southeast Houston behind Produce Row. Record producer David Thompson arrived at Sugar Hill fifteen minutes late for a recording session. There was cocaine on the floor and the doctor’s examining table.Leaving a shaking Meaux handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser, ten officers from the southeast narcotics unit burst into the Sugar Hill complex, where Meaux leased office space, and put guns to the heads of studio engineers, musicians, and hangers-on. “I was in a rush and noticed the parking lot was full of cars,” Thompson said. I thought Joe Pyland, the cop who used to work the beat, might have dropped in. Most of it was on a plate with a rolled up ten-dollar bill and razor blade.” A box in one of the safes had small packages of cheap jewelry. There were approximately 10,000 photographs of all kinds—at least 1,500 of them were pornographic.Ben promised Wright he would bring him a videotape with the incriminating evidence, but he never returned.Wright, a fourteen-year veteran of the police department, guessed that Ben got cold feet, as often happens, and the case was placed in the inactive file until Brasher made her complaint (her lawyers insist that though she and Ben grew up together, she didn’t know he had already gone to the authorities).Many of those episodes, she said, were videotaped, and she knew where the police could find the tapes.“When she said, ‘My dad owns a recording studio,’ I knew right away who she was talking about,” said Officer Dwayne Wright of the Juvenile Sex Crimes unit of the Houston Police Department.
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.
Almost five months earlier, Wright had heard a similar complaint lodged by Ben Meaux, Huey’s 15-year-old adopted son.
Ben had said that his father was messed up on cocaine and had been fooling around with girls who were Ben’s age.
John, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Freddy Fender, and Jerry Lee Lewis, and I always came away convinced he was a bigger star than any of them. Had Meaux crossed the line from rake to monster behind the immunity of stardom?
Meaux’s arrest and the events that followed made for the most sensational crime story of the year in Houston, and his image was splashed on the front page and all over the nightly news. Huey was up-front about his hedonism, but had we unwittingly encouraged or overlooked behavior that was clearly against the law and damaging to his victims?