The Jason Wright Show

The Jason Wright Show

Episode 61 “From ZZ Top to Don Henley the Man Who Recorded Them Way Back When” Robin Hood Brians

October 20, 2020

Robin Hood Brians was involved in music from the tender age of five. His first performances were in Corsicana, Texas on the Lion’s Club Variety Show. His voice instructor was Aline Trimble, his Godmother, who later moved to Dallas and became Aline Byrd. She was very active in the music circles in Dallas including Symphony and Opera. Robin had a quartet in Junior High called “The Four Roses.” The choir teacher, Mrs. DeMontel sometimes accompanied them in which case they were booked as “The Four Roses and a Fifth.” In High School, Robin Hood had a trio consisting of different members including: Ronnie Palmer, Steve Crough, Don Wilmeth and John Bass. After High School, he formed a band called “Robin Hood and His Merry Men” that played dances and shows throughout the tri-state area. In 1957, he recorded one of his compositions on Fraternity Records called “Dis-A-Itty-Bit.” While it was not a national hit, it inspired Robin Hood to build a portable console and begin recording records for himself and others artists in the East Texas area.

His first console was designed and built in around 1960 by Robin with the assistance of Robie Morgan, who was then Chief Engineer of radio station KDOK. It has 10 inputs, with high and Low EQ on each channel as well as echo send on each mic channel. It was flat from 20 to 20,000 cycles and had not a drop of distortion. That was a “HOT” board for 1960! It was the first board for Robin Hood Studios.

The current Robin Hood Studios was built in 1963 in what had been the back yard of Bob and Audrey Brians’ residence at 1024 West 10th Street in Tyler, Texas. It was officially named “Brians Studios”, however since everyone called it Robin Hood Studios, the name was soon officially changed. Since the house was on a corner lot, the entrance to the studio was at 2200 Sunnybrook Drive. It was finished in July of 1963. Four months later, Bob Brians died suddenly leaving his son Robin Hood Brians as the head of the household. His mother, Audrey Brians, known to all the clients and musicians as “Mrs. B” booked the sessions and helped her son’s fledgling business thrive. She died in 1996. Robin Hood had built a clientele of small record labels recording Square Dance records, local rock and country labels like TY-Tex and Custom Records as well as artists from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The first Billboard hits for Robin Hood Studios came from major regional labels in Dallas and Shreveport. They produced “Mountain Of Love” by David Houston on Epic Records. Houston was produced by Tillman Franks who had produced Johnny Horton and was in the wreck which killed Horton. The first pop Billboard hit was produced by Dale (Suzie Q) Hawkins; it was by the Uniques, featuring Joe Stampley and was entitled “Not Too Long Ago.” Robin Hood recorded several albums by the Uniques for Paula Records, Platinum albums by Z Z Top (originally released on London Records and later re-released under the Warner Brothers label), The Five Americans and Jon & Robin and the In Crowd for ABNAK Records of Dallas, as well as regional hits from many other artists including: Mouse & the Traps, Gladstone, Southwest FOB. Country hits followed by Nat Stuckey, Tony Douglas and many other regional artists.