Today's Featured Biography
Dr. Oscar Houchins
Oscar Houchins has enjoyed employment in all three major U.S. music business centers; New York, L.A., and Nashville. He now works in Austin, Texas where he owns and operates House of Houchins, a production and publishing entity.
As a performing Artist, Oscar found his first success with a band produced by Tommy James, leader of the multi-platinum band The Shondells, known as The Clique. The Clique had several top 40 hits on White Whale Records, (label-mates of the “Turtles,” among others) including the multi-platinum record and smash hit, “Sugar On Sunday.” The Clique’s first hit record was a song written by Austin’s Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators entitled “Splash One,” which stayed #1 on KILT’s Houston rock station for a then record 13 weeks. Next was “Superman,” which was later covered by REM; followed by “I’ll Hold Out My Hand,” which climbed to #21 on the national charts, and was also number One in many U.S. markets including WLS in Chicago. The solo album, “The Clique,” was recently re-released in Europe by Rivola, UK. (Interview regarding The Clique in The Houston Chronicle). http://blog.chron.com/handstamp/2008/01/the-clique-a-hit-in-the-60s-reunites-for-hall-of-fame-show/
Oscar was signed as a solo artist to Monument Records in Nashville, and released his version of the popular Ronnie Lane and The Faces European hit single, “How Come.” He was produced by legendary songwriter Buzz Cason, who is the only songwriter to have songs recorded by The Beatles, U2, and Pearl Jam. Oscar performed most of that year at “The King of The Road Hotel” in Nashville with Ronnie Milsap, but with the release of the record, went on tour, and in Texas he added Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters to his many stage performances. Since those days, Oscar has performed in many club circuits including mainly piano and hotel bars in major cities across the nation. In one club in Houston on FM 1960, the owner built Oscar a piano bar matching his designed specifications which drew packed out houses every night.
As a Songwriter, Oscar was signed out of Los Angeles to be ABC/Dunhill’s first staff writer in Nashville. Houchins was later signed to write contemporary Christian music for Word Publishing. He was produced by Aaron Brown, who first opened the offices for Word Records in Nashville, and saw Oscar as actually being the first contemporary Christian songwriter and artist. Christian artist Sam Durrence recorded “Wings ”the title song on his album on Antebellum Records, and a song Oscar wrote with Steve Gibbs, who wrote “She Believes in Me” ( Kenny Rogers). Oscar later served as a staff writer for Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Music. Oscar has enjoyed having his songs recorded by the likes of Rita Coolidge to the Grammy Award nominated root rock band, Wilco. Tipper Gore picked one of Houchins’ songs entitled “If Your Willing,” to be the theme song for “Tennessee’s Voices for Children,” a non-profit organization dedicated to the mental and emotional health of Tennessee’s children.
As a Musician, Oscar has enjoyed performing on most major concert stages throughout the United States, including both the newer Opry, and the original Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman auditorium. Oscar has also enjoyed working in the studio and on tour with numerous recording artists. Most noteworthy perhaps was his being the piano player and a member of Sonny James’s back-up singing group, ‘The Southern Gentlemen,’ who had 23 Number One Country and cross-over hits including, “Young Love,” “Since I Met You Baby,” and “Running Bear.”
As a Producer, Oscar has produced or co-produced many projects, including: Jimmy Webb, Bil VornDick (Alison Krause), Chip Young (Delbert McClinton), and Chris “Frenchie” Smith (Jet). In the process, Houchins has had the pleasure of producing some of the finest musicians in the industry. In Nashville they include: Tiger Bell (Fiddle-Ricky Van Shelton), Mike Estes-(Guitar Lynyrd Skynyrd), Darin Favorite (Guitar- Ricky Van Shelton), Ken Coomer (Drummer-Wilco), John Stirratt (Bass-Wilco), Barry Chance (Guitar-Jimmy Buffet), Dennis Taylor and Steve Herman (Horns- Delbert McClinton), Yvonne Hodges and Kim Morrison (Back-up Singers to Elvis), Pierre Merriany (Percussion-Little Feat), Mark Fain (Bass- Dixie Chicks), Eddie Bayers (Drums-Steve Winwood), Michael Rojas (piano/keys-Stevie Nicks), Sonny Garrish (Steel- The Beach Boys), Johnny Hiland (guitar-Toby Keith), Jelly Roll Johnson (Harp-Guy Clark), Johnny Christopher (guitar-Garth Brooks), and Steve Hardin (Steppenwolf) to name a few. In Austin: Chris Gage (Piano- ACL All Star band-Willie Nelson, etc.), Merel Bregante (drums- Loggins and Messina), John Staehely (Guitar-Robert Palmer), Kevin Hall (drummer- Hal Ketchum), Jimmy Pettit (bass-Joe Ely), Richard Bowden (fiddle- The Maines Brothers), and David Holt (guitar- Joe Ely).
While serving as President of the Music Division for Steve Binder Productions in Los Angeles, Oscar co-produced with Jimmy Webb , The Beach Boys segment of the “10th Anniversary Rolling Stone Television Special.” Houchins produced the “Songwriters’ Showcase” program filmed at Rockefeller’s in Houston, featuring many well-known successful songwriters, such as Jeff Silbar, writer of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” 1990’s Oscar winner.
As a Publisher and Manager, Oscar’s company in Nashville, House of Houchins LLC (1998) represented the publishing interests of Tommy James of the Shondells, and his 13 Number One Songs including: “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” Crystal Blue Persuasion,” and “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Houchins Management, in Nashville and Austin, has represented contemporary Christian artist Devin Garza; New York root rocker Pamela Ryder; Doug Summers, discovered by Mary Martin (who also signed Bob Dylan) and brought Doug to Asylum Records in Nashville; Austin’s The Hi-Tones; Puerto Rico and Universal Record’s Ignacio Pena; and the high energy rock band, High Water Gamble, out of Oklahoma.
As an Event Producer, Oscar produced the Entertainer Celebrity Golf Tour out of Nashville, including recording artists and musicians such as Steve Cropper (“Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”) Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks, and the participation of many sports and NFL celebrities in the area. Houchins has produced several music concerts and music festivals featuring many national touring acts including “The Guess Who” (Austin, 2000); “Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel;” Trout Fishing in America; Karen Abrahams; etc., at Manor Downs (Austin, 2001).
Oscar has organized songwriting panels and seminars for BMI, ASCAP, record companies and publishing entities in Austin, Houston and in Dallas. As Executive Director of The Texas Songwriting Association, Oscar established, along with Tommy Pierce and the Austin Songwriter’s Group, the first ever ‘Songwriting Seminar and Expo’ in Austin, Texas, at the Hyatt Regency (1989). The event drew major publishers from both LA and Nashville, with writers participating from all over the state. During Houchins tenure as Executive Director of The Texas Songwriting Association, he chartered several area songwriting associations across the state, including The Fort Bend Songwriting Association, and the Waco Songwriting Association. These charters were granted under the auspices of the Nashville Songwriting Association International (NSAI) when Roger Murrah (Hall of Fame songwriter) was President, and with whom Houchins co-wrote several songs including, “Don’t Say Goodbye” and “You’re my Milk and Honey.”
As a Teacher, Oscar was a faculty member of the Arts Institute of Houston. He taught songwriting, music business marketing, and copyright law along with noted music business attorney and musician, Al Staehely (Spirit).
Honors-Houchins is a voting member of the Grammy’s (NARAS) a member of the Country Music Association (CMA) and an ASCAP writer and publisher. Oscar was inducted into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame in January of 2008, and was nominated for a Star on the South Texas Music Walk of Fame in 2017.
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