With a daunting work ethic, an eye for talent, an ear for great songs and a thirst for opportunities to take risks, Nashville’s own Scott Hendricks, has already put his thumb-print on a significant portion, of ‘Country Music History’ Hendricks has produced well over 100 albums, giving birth to 102 Top 10 singles, 63 of which peaked at No.1 collectively spending 2 years, at the top of the charts. His production credits span almost 4 decades of artists from Restless Heart, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, John Michael Montgomery, Trace Adkins, to Dan + Shay, Jana Kramer, Michael Ray and super-star Blake Shelton.
To-date, the industry has recognized his achievements with six ACM Awards and two CMA Awards as the producer of such hits as Brooks & Dunn’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” John Michael Montgomery’s “I Swear,” Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” and Blake Shelton’s collaboration with Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone” which won an ACM Award for Best Collaboration in 2011, and an Emmy, for his production of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Monday Night Football” theme, as well. And … music fans everywhere discovered Scott’s pedigree, when he joined Blake as a mentor for 3 episodes in Season 8 of NBC’s The Voice.
Since his arrival at Warner Music Nashville in 2007, and his new appointment to EVP of A&R, Hendricks has also overseen the discovery and introduction of Hunter Hayes, Brett Eldridge, Jana Kramer and Michael Ray along with right-arm A&R ace Cris Lacy, while producing Shelton’s Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton, All About Tonight, Red River Blue, Bringing Back the Sunshine, If I’m Honest and Cheers, It’s Christmas, Dan + Shay’s Where It All Began, Obsessed and Hunter Hayes’ debut and Storyline albums.
Prior to Warner, Hendricks helped found EMI’s Nashville division for Virgin Records in 1998, where he signed Chris Cagle, prior to which, he was President/CEO of Capitol Records Nashville, from ‘95 to 98, on the heels of Jimmy Bowen’s rein, where Scott oversaw the careers of Garth Brooks and Deana Carter, and was responsible for signing Trace Adkins, Roy D Mercer and Keith Urban, following the launch of Scott’s publishing company Big Tractor in 1991, whose writers penned “I Saw God Today” for George Strait and “Amazed” for Lonestar.
Thirteen years earlier, Hendricks’ journey began in 1978. After graduating from Oklahoma State, with a degree in Architectural Acoustics, Scott’s first gig was, designing and selling gear to recording studios, for Nashville Sound Systems. He also landed a part-time job teaching engineering classes at Belmont University, which lasted seven years. During a sales call at Glaser Sound Studios, the engineer invited Scott to hang out at sessions any time he wanted. Hendricks became an unpaid gopher at Glaser Sound—where he watched many historic sessions with Jimmy Bowen at the helm.
After nine months the Glaser Brothers hired Hendricks as a full-time engineer and he was officially “in,” but that, was just for starters. From Glaser Sound Hendricks moved to Bullet Recording Studios, where he was chief engineer. Hendricks and another Okie, Tim DuBois, (who arrived in Nashville with Scott) hooked up to co-produce Restless Heart, a new band eventually signed to RCA Records. Together with Hendricks and DuBois, Restless Heart racked up 13 top ten singles, including six No. 1 singles.
That success made Hendricks a go-to engineer as well as an up and coming producer. Soon after, Wayne Watson asked Scott to produce/engineer his next project, which became a No. 1 album in Contemporary Christian Music. Hendricks also mixed and/or engineered albums by Alabama, Anne Murray, Lorrie Morgan and Tanya Tucker, among others. He recorded Lee Greenwood’s “Holdin’ A Good Hand”, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Recording. He also took the sonic reins on seven Hank Williams Jr. albums, including the award-winning Born To Boogie. During that partnership, he combined Hank Williams’ vocals from a 1951 acetate recording with new tracks to create “There’s A Tear In My Beer,” a honky-tonk number with a foot in two different generations. And … it won a Grammy and awards from both the CMAs and the ACMs that year.
Scott has had numerous pivotal moments in his career but, one of his most memorable, was around 1985, after Restless Heart had hit, when Jim Ed Norman called him one day and said; I’ve got this guy who’s moving to Nashville, he’s a legend named Barry Beckett. He’s from Muscle Shoals rhythm section and he needs an engineer, would you be up to mixing something for him?
Hendricks: By the time I met Barry, I had mixed 25-35 number one singles and so I thought I knew what I was doing, Barry brings out this tape of something I don’t even remember what it was. I said I’ll mix it tonight, why don’t you come in in the morning and we’ll go from there. So I mix it as good as I can get it. Man I’ve got this nailed. He comes in the next morning and I set him up to listen without me in there.
He finally came out of the control room with a serious look on his face. He said you ready? I said yup, so we roll up to the board and he reaches up and he grabs all the faders and pulls them down. And I’m sitting there thinking… what did he just do? I was just stunned. I mean, he goes we’re going to start here. We’re going to start with the high hat. And he raises the high hat fader. I was just thinking, are you kidding me?
Long story short, by the time we got through, I had been schooled. My tail was between my legs, I could not believe how much better this mix was that Barry just did with me. It was so obvious, it wasn’t like we could argue this. I thought I was something and I had just been taken to school on mixing. Barry taught me so, so, so much about a lot of things. He was my mentor, my biggest mentor hands down, ever.