Scott Hendricks
Scott Hendricks

You can’t see it, but just outside of Scott Hendricks’ office at Warner Music Nashville, there’s a road that leads downstairs, through the lobby, out the door onto Music Row … and way back to a farm in Clinton, Oklahoma, where his remarkable journey began.

Milestones have been many as he travelled that road. His love for music led him from local gigs to a degree at Oklahoma State University. That, in turn, gave him a foothold in the recording business when he and his college friend and song writing partner, Tim DuBois, headed east to seek their dreams in Nashville. The road rose from there, as Hendricks built twin reputations as one of the most successful record producers and label executives in the music business.

Today, Hendricks can look back at a spectacular career, having produced 107 Top 10 singles, 66 of which peaked at No. 1. All toll his number one records have spent 108 weeks (over 2 years) at the top of the chart. He has earned six awards from the Academy of Country Music, two from the Country Music Association and an Emmy Award as well for his production for the theme song of Monday Night Football with Hank Williams Jr. His production credits include the best of the best: Restless Heart, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, John Michael Montgomery, Trace Adkins, Dan + Shay, Jana Kramer, Michael Ray, William Michael Morgan and Blake Shelton among many others. And he achieved perhaps the ultimate distinction in this age of reality TV when he joined Shelton four times as a mentor on NBC’s The Voice.

Since coming onboard at Warner Music Nashville in 2007, Hendricks has supervised the A&R staff that has discovered and introduced Hunter Hayes, Brett Eldridge, Jana Kramer, Michael Ray and William Michael Morgan. At the same time, he has produced/A&R’d projects by Warner artists, several of which have topped the Billboard charts (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 and Obsessed, Brett Eldredge’s Bring You Back and Illinois as well as Hunter Hayes’ Encore and Storyline among many others).

For Hendricks, the earliest stops along his highway made possible all that would follow. “My grandparents instilled in me an incredible work ethic,” he explains. “I would spend no less than 10 hours a day on a tractor, working on their farm and listening to Top 40 radio. Then I’d come home, put on headphones and fall asleep, trying to understand the arrangement of, say, a record by Chicago — how did they do this? I didn’t know what a producer was. I’d never seen a recording studio. All I knew was that I loved writing songs and figuring out why songs did what they did.”

By the time he began his studies at OSU, Hendricks was ready and eager to pursue a career in music. He miraculously found a job working in the Audio Visual Center on campus where he met Tim DuBois. There they recorded many of their songwriting demos starting on a 2-track recorder, eventually graduating to a 4-track. Hendricks also started playing guitar in a Top 40 band called Marin. Eventually, once hearing a better guitar player, Greg Jennings, he volunteered to become the front of house mixer. When he found that the school’s undergraduate programs didn’t quite fit with his ambitions, he took the initiative to create and gain approval for a unique degree in architectural acoustics. The school mapped out a curriculum that included classes in engineering, music, radio/film/television and the graduate program in architecture. The end goal was to find a way to get into a professional recording studio one day.

With his Marin band mate, Greg Jennings (who later became the guitar player in Restless Heart), Hendricks relocated to Nashville the day after they had earned their degrees, not bothering to wait for the cap-and-gown ceremony. Through his numerous trips to Nashville with Tim DuBois pitching their songs to publishers, Hendricks had a job lined up following graduation working at a company as a recording studio acoustician and salesman of recording equipment. Eventually Hendricks befriended engineer and fellow Oklahoman Ron Treat at the Glaser Brothers’ Studio, where he spent every night after his day job assisting Treat and watching legendary producer Jimmy Bowen work, witnessing some of Country music’s greatest recordings.

Eventually, Bowen decided to move his business to Soundstage Studios, taking Treat with him. “So when the Glaser Brothers asked, ‘Who should we hire?’ Ron said, ‘Hire this kid. He has been hanging out here for nine months working for free and he now knows where every cockroach lives in this studio.’ That’s how I went from being an acoustician to actually engineering records — it was a leap going from engineering four tracks at the AVC in Stillwater to 24 tracks in Nashville.”

His upward trajectory accelerated. Nashville’s top producers hired him to engineer/mix on their sessions. He learned from them all, especially the legendary musical giant, Barry Beckett. That team worked on seven Hank Williams Jr. albums, Alabama, Etta James and many others.  

In 1984, Hendricks and Tim DuBois took a chance on recording an un-named band to secure a record deal. That band became Restless Heart and was signed to RCA Records. Many hits followed including the iconic song “I”ll Still Be Loving You”. This launched the 30+ year career of producing.

In the years that followed, Hendricks would work both independently as a producer/engineer and in executive positions. In 1991 he founded the music publishing company Big Tractor, whose writers penned “I Saw God Today” for George Strait and “Amazed” for Lonestar. Four years later, Capitol Records Nashville hired him as President/CEO­­­, in which capacity he oversaw Garth Brooks and Deana Carter’s career as well as signing Trace Adkins, Roy D Mercer, and Keith Urban.

More adventures followed, as Hendricks founded a Nashville division of Virgin Records in 1998. In 2001, he left to again produce independently until being tapped to oversee A&R at Warner Bros. Nashville. His always impressive work rate intensified as he divided his time between production and A&R.

Why does Hendricks continue to juggle two more-than-full-time careers? “Because I love what I do,” he answers. “I benefit from having an incredible A&R staff, It gets a little crazy sometimes balancing my A&R responsibilities at a major record company and producing many of the artists on that roster.”

“Honestly,” he sums up, “I have a lot of plates spinning all the time. But luckily, I still enjoy what I do as much as I ever have. If it ever stops being fun for me, that’s when I’ll go home. But I’m so lucky because I love what I’m doing.”

And so Hendricks is still on that road, hopefully with many more hit artists and hit records just over the horizon.