Don Caldwell Recording Studios

Collection Details: 
The Don Caldwell Recording Studios Collection contains professional audio recordings and home-produced demos of concert music, songs, and regional advertising created in Lubbock, Texas, during the second half of the 20th century.


Saxophonist Don Caldwell is responsible for much of the cultural ferment in West Texas. He has produced numerous musical events including the Lubbock centennial celebration, the annual "4th On Broadway", and "The Buddy Holly Music Festival”. The historic Cactus Theater came under his management in 1993 and was renovated into the heart of a downtown renewal and the thriving Depot District. He operated the former movie house as a performing arts center for two decades.

In 1971, he opened Don Caldwell Recording Studios and the associated talent management company, followed soon by Phone Publishing and the Texas Soul record label. With his lead engineer, the pedal steel virtuoso Lloyd Maines, the Scully 4-track studio began compiling high-quality recordings that captured the attention of Nashville and the record-buying public.

In 1976 they upgraded to 16 tracks and became a national sensation, capturing Joe Ely for MCA and the Maines Brothers Band for Mercury. The seminal Terry Allen album Lubbock (on everything), using a host of local talent, made the studio a global force in 1979. Smokin’ the Dummy and Bloodlines quickly followed. The studio upgraded with a 2-inch MCI machine and engineer Alan Crossland at the controls. In the mid-1990s Crossland took over the business from Caldwell until they lost their facility’s lease. At that point the studio’s enormous holding of recording tapes was rescued by the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.

Overview of collection:

Curtis Peoples, guitarist and composer who had worked at the studio, understood the significance of the Caldwell tapes and lobbied to create the Crossroads of Music Archive at SWC/SCL. The five thousand analog-magnetic audio tapes, ranging from homegrown cassette demos to 2-inch masters, became the foundational collection of the archive. In 2000, the tapes were moved for safekeeping under improved temperature, ventilation, and humidity controls in either the new Southwest Collection building or the main library on the Texas Tech campus.

Most of the material belongs to the artists and commercial clients who rented time and contracted for production services at the studio. They hold all rights to the recordings and, except for scholarly research use on campus, are preserved on the creators’ behalf.

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