Earlier this fall I made a brief post describing ZZ Top’s Eliminator album and the story behind its creation. Though I know not how, Linden Hudson, the sound engineer for the diamond selling record, heard of my writings and graciously corrected me on several points in my story. Here is what he had to say:
“I am Linden Hudson. I did work tirelessly on the “Eliminator” album. So, let me point out that you really got the story wrong about the lawsuit. You have written that the lawsuit was against Linden Hudson, but I assure you that it was Linden Hudson who directed the lawsuit against ZZ Top, it’s a fact, 100 percent. Also, you said the lawsuit caused the band to go back to their old guitar-centric formula. I assure again, that was not the case on the next few albums after ELIMINATOR. Afterburner continued this trend for sure. But, Linden Hudson (me) was not working with them during AFTERBURNER because he had a pending lawsuit against ZZ Top. Just wanted to point those things out. Signed: Linden Hudson”
After my initial shock that I had heard from someone who, in my book, is actually semi famous, I realized what learning opportunity I had in front of me. As an aspiring musician myself, I was thrilled by the possibility of an opportunity to learn not only more about the Eliminator album, but also what it was like to work as a professional sound engineer.
Photo of Linden Hudson. Picture curtesy of www.lindenhudson.com
After receiving his initial comment on my post, I sent him an email asking if he would be willing to do a sort of informal interview for this blog and he obliged.
Before sending my questions along, I spent a significant amount of time on his website reading his bio and perusing the rest of the interwebs for more information on him.
Initially, Hudson was somewhat hesitant to answer my questions because of bad experiences and because of how long it had been since he had worked with the group.
“… I had a tremendously bad experience with ZZ Top. Therefore, I’m not sure what kind of response you might expect from me. I guess it would depend on what your questions might be. I will not answer some questions as I would avoid certain and unnecessary legal mis-chances. Also, do remember that I worked with them over thirty years ago, and after the release of “Eliminator” we were not friends because of what they did to me and my resulting lawsuit which brought little help to me. Therefore, I’ve not had contact with them in a long time. …”
Thankfully though, he was still willing to engage my questions and feed my curiosity. Below are a few of my questions and his answers.
How did you first get in contact with ZZ Top in order to start working with them?
Hudson: “I didn’t get in contact with ZZ Top, I had known them casually for years, and then, at one point, Frank Beard (ZZ Top drummer) asked me to move in to his house with him and his wife. Frank and I were good friends at that time. It had nothing to do with me working for the band, they never asked me to work with them and I never asked if I could be an employee. But, I had 10 years of experience as a recording studio engineer, so Frank asked me to build a recording studio in his house for ZZ Top to experiment in, so I did (I built it for free, after all he was letting me live in his house). Then Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top guitarist) started coming over a lot and he and I ended up (by accident) working in depth on the “Eliminator” album. It just evolved that way. Some things just happen.”
Aside from the obvious struggles, what were the pros and cons of working with a group so popular?
Hudson: “I was not a hired employee. I never considered that I was working for them. I was experimenting and creating with them. Not employed. Also, you must understand that they were not really superstars before the “Eliminator” album came out. This quote from Rolling Stone magazine helps explain that: Rolling Stone Magazine Said: “With 1983′s Eliminator, ZZ Top made a quantum leap from best-kept secret to massive stardom”.”
Were there key any moments that really inspired you throughout your career?
Hudson: “Even though Billy Gibbons did not help me at all in getting credit for all my creative and technical help on the “Eliminator” album, I was self-inspired by what a huge success that album was. It was the biggest thing I’d been a part of up to that time (and forever). I was a big part of the creativity in that album (but I was not credited as promised). It was their biggest selling album out of all of their 15 albums. It was one of the biggest records in pop history.”
If you had the opportunity to work for a musical group as large as ZZ Top again, would you?
Hudson: “I don’t have a very good attitude about the music business. I don’t think I’m really interested any more. But, I like music and make my own recordings just for the fun of it.”
End of interview.
After hearing back from Hudson, I did a little research on my own to try to find more media from the Eliminator era to post such as interviews or studio recordings that might help to shed light on the album, but wasn’t able to find much. The only thing I found was a brief mention to Hudson in an interview with licklibrary.com (link posted above). I also tried to get in contact with ZZ Top to hear if they had anything to say about the album, but I wasn’t able to get in contact with them.
For more information on the album itself please see the Wikipedia link below. Thank you, Mr. Hudson for being so gracious with your time. Visit his website at www.lindenhudson.com
You can view the original post here: http://writing365.org/msuigussaar/2014/10/06/zz-top-eliminator-1983/
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