born on 6/11/1941 in San Antonio, TX, United States
died on 18/11/1999 in Taos, NM, United States
Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999) was an American musician and singer-songwriter from Texas. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he was a child prodigy in country music but became a significant figure in roots rock and other genres. Sahm is considered one of the most important figures in what is identified as Tex-Mex music. Proficient on multiple instruments, he was the founder and leader of the 1960s rock and roll band, the Sir Douglas Quintet. He would later co-found the Texas Tornados with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jiménez as well as Los Super Seven.
Country prodigy: 1940s and 1950s
Sahm began his musical career singing and playing steel guitar, mandolin, and violin. He made his radio debut at the age of five. He released his first record "A Real American Joe" at age eleven. On December 19, 1952, at the age of eleven, he played on stage with Hank Williams Sr. at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas. It was Hank Williams's very last performance. Williams died on New Year's Day of 1953, on the road to his next show, in Canton, Ohio. Sahm was offered a permanent spot on the Grand Ole Opry at age thirteen, but his mother wanted him to finish junior high.
One of Sahm's earliest recordings was rejected by Mercury Records in 1953. In the mid-1950s, he started sneaking into San Antonio rhythm and blues clubs, such as the Tiffany Lounge and the Ebony Lounge, and he was soon performing in them. Sahm formed his first band, the Knights, in 1957. Later in the decade, Sahm joined up with Spot Barnett's band, playing mostly black San Antonio blues clubs. In 1960, Sahm travelled across the country promoting a record. He met Freddy Fender in 1958 and met Roy Head, of Roy Head and the Traits, from San Marcos, Texas, in 1959, when they shared the stage at a sock hop in San Antonio's Municipal Auditorium.
Sir Douglas Quintet: 1960s
In 1965, prompted by record producer Huey Meaux, Sahm formed the Sir Douglas Quintet with childhood friend Augie Meyers. They chose the group's name in an effort to make the band seem British to benefit from the British invasion. This image had its problems, particularly because of Sahm's Texas accent and because two of five band members were Hispanic. Some early publicity photos were shot in silhouette to hide this fact.
The band had a top 20 U.S. hit with "She's About a Mover" and a lesser hit with "The Rains Came," the former also reaching the Top Twenty in the UK Singles Chart. The band broke up after a bust for marijuana possession in Corpus Christi, Texas. Sahm moved to San Francisco and formed the Honkey Blues Band, then later re-formed the Sir Douglas Quintet with a new lineup. Eventually Augie Meyers rejoined the quintet, and they released the successful single and album Mendocino. The record contained the song "At the Crossroads", with the Sahm line "You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul."
Atlantic years: 1970s
In 1973, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records bought Sahm's contract and produced his solo debut Doug Sahm and Band, an album featuring Bob Dylan, Dr. John, David Bromberg, and Flaco Jiménez. "Then in October 1972, Dylan was in the studio with Doug Sahm... Dylan having been friendly with Sahm since the mid-sixties and having expressed enthusiasm for the Sir Douglas Quintet on more than one occasion."
Sahm continued recording both as a solo artist and with the Sir Douglas Quintet. During this period, Sahm also had a couple of minor motion picture roles. In 1972, he and the Quintet appeared with Kris Kristofferson in Cisco Pike, and in 1979 he was featured in More American Graffiti. Sahm was also a sought-after session musician, appearing on releases of other artists, including the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson.
During 1975 Sahm played a pivotal role in the musical resurgence of fellow Texan Roky Erikson, who had been struggling to survive on the Austin music scene after being released from his infamous period of court-enforced confinement in a psychiatric hospital. Through Craig Luckin, Sahm's San Francisco tour manager at the time, Erikson came to San Francisco and performed a brief four-song set over three nights, backed by Sahm with the reformed Sir Douglas Quintet. Sahm also funded and produced Erikson's first "comeback" single, "Starry Eyes/Two-Headed Dog", for Erikson's new band Bleib Alien (later renamed the Aliens). Sahm had earlier worked with former Creedence Clearwater Revival members Doug Clifford and Stu Cook—Clifford produced and played drums on Groover's Paradise (1974), a Warner Bros. Records release credited to Doug Sahm and the Tex-Mex Trip, on which Cook also played bass—and this in turn led to Cook and Luckin jointly producing The Evil One, the first album by Roky Erikson & the Aliens, whose lineup included guitarist Duane Aslaksen, Sahm’s touring sound mixer and guitar technician at the time.
About a Mover: 1980s
In 1983, Sahm and Meyers signed with the Swedish Sonet label and made several extensive European tours, which revitalized their careers. The single "Meet Me in Stockholm" from their Midnight Sun LP went platinum and was one of the biggest-selling records ever in Scandinavia. After an accident in 1985, Sahm moved to Canada and then returned to Texas in 1988.
A Texas Tornado and more: 1990s
In 1989, Sahm formed the Tex-Mex supergroup, the Texas Tornados, with Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jimenez. The original group recorded seven albums (including two live ones, and a "Best of" collection). Their first album won a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Performance for the song "Soy de San Luis", in 1991. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, besides touring and recording with the Texas Tornados, Sahm also played and recorded with several other bands, including the Sir Douglas Quintet, the Texas Mavericks, the Last Real Texas Blues Band, the Amos Garrett–Doug Sahm–Gene Taylor Band, Doug Sahm & Sons, the Mysterious Sam Dogg and the Cosmic Cowboys, and others, including his last band, the Cherry Ridge Riders. In 1990 Sahm and his sons Shawn and Shandon joined forces to record a powerful version of the 13th Floor Elevators song "You're Gonna Miss Me" for the all-star compilation album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson. Sahm also appears on the 1993 Uncle Tupelo album Anodyne on the song "Give Back the Key to my Heart". Sahm recorded a Grammy-winning solo album, The Last Real Texas Blues Band and recorded with yet another new formation of the Sir Douglas Quintet for SDQ '98.
Death and legacy
A posthumous album, The Return of Wayne Douglas, was released in 2000. Sahm's son, Shawn Sahm, continues in his father's footsteps as the leader of his band, Shawn Sahm & the Tex Mex Experience. Father and son appeared together on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1968.
The surviving members of the Texas Tornados (Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez) reunited with Shawn Sahm on the 2010 release Está Bueno. Doug Sahm's other son, Shandon Sahm, played drums for the Meat Puppets from 1999 to 2002 and is their current drummer (as of 2010).
In 2008, Austin, Texas approved the naming of Doug Sahm Hill, in a park near Lady Bird Lake, in his honor.
In October 2012, a group of musicians—including Dave Alvin, Steve Earle, Delbert McClinton, Boz Scaggs, and Jimmie Vaughan—played a tribute to Sahm at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. The group, performing under the name "Doug Sahm's Phantom Playboys," commemorated Sahm's lasting impact on the Americana music scene by playing several of his songs.
A documentary film, Sir Doug & the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove, premiered at South by Southwest on March 19, 2015.
- 1973 – Doug Sahm and Band, (Atlantic)
- 1973 – Texas Tornado (Atlantic; as the Sir Douglas Band)
- 1974 – Groover's Paradise (Warner Bros.; as Doug Sahm and the Tex-Mex Trip)
- 1976 – Texas Rock For Country Rollers (ABC-Dot; as Sir Doug & the Texas Tornados)
- 1980 – Hell of a Spell (Takoma)
- 1982 – Still Growing (Sonet, UK; as Augie Meyers with Doug Sahm)
- 1983 – The West Side Sound Rolls Again (Teardrop; as Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers and the West Side Horns)
- 1984 – Live: Goin' To San Antone (P-Vine Special, Japan)
- 1987 – Doug Sahm Presents the Texas Mavericks (New Rose, France)
- 1987 – The Return of the Formerly Brothers (Stony Plain, Rykodisc), with Amos Garrett and Gene Taylor
- 1988 – Back to the 'Dillo (Sonet, Edsel), 1977 live recordings from the Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas
- 1988 – Live (Line, Bear Tracks)
- 1989 – Juke Box Music (Antone's)
- 1991 – Live in Japan 1990 (Stony Plain/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab; as the Amos Garrett–Doug Sahm–Gene Taylor Band)
- 1994 – The Last Real Texas Blues Band (Discovery), featuring Doug Sahm, half recorded live at Antone's, Austin, Texas, in 1988
- 1998 – SDQ '98 (Watermelon; with the Gourds and founders and second-generation SDQ members)
- 2000 – The Return of Wayne Douglas (Tornado)
- 2012 – The Return of Wayne Douglas (Steady Boy), first release on vinyl LP
- 2012 – Live in Stockholm (San Antonio Records; as Doug Sahm and the Last Real Texas Blues Band)
- 2012 – Inlaws and Outlaws (All Access; Doug Sahm and Band 1973 radio broadcast)
- 2004 – He's About a Groover: An Essential Collection (Fuel 2000)
- 2004 – Complete Atlantic Recordings (Rhino)
- 2003 – The Genuine Texas Groover (Rhino Handmade)
- 2001 – Son of San Antonio: The Roots of Sir Douglas (Music Club)
- 2000 – San Antonio Rock: The Harlem Recordings 1957–1961 (Norton)
- 2000 – In the Beginning (Aim)
- 1996 – Antone's 20th Anniversary (Discovery), live blues collection with Sahm playing piano (a rarity) and singing lead on one track
- 1995 – His Early Years (Collectables)
- 1995 – Get on Up (Collectables)
- 1993 – Hole in The Wall 20th Anniversary (Maverick), live collection with three rare Texas Mavericks tracks plus other artists
- 1992 – The Best of Doug Sahm's Atlantic Sessions (Rhino)
- 1992 – Beach Music Sampler (Antone's), two studio songs by Sahm plus other Antone's artists
- 1985 – Texas Road Runner: The Renner Sides 1961–1964 (Moonshine, Belgium), early singles, first time on LP
- 1981 – Sir Douglas: His First Recordings (Charly)
- 1980 – For The Record: Austin Country 1973–1980 (Maverick), solo Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, and other Austin artists
- 1979 – Sir Doug: Way Back When He Was Just Doug Sahm (Harlem Hitparade)
- 1976 – Hit-Kickers Series Vols. 2–9 (Festival), three LPs in each volume, with one to three Doug Sahm songs in each volume
Recordings by other artists
- 1973 – Wake of the Flood, by the Grateful Dead (Grateful Dead Records): Sahm plays bajo sexto (a Mexican 12-string guitar)
- 1976 – The Troublemaker, by Willie Nelson (Columbia Records): Sahm plays fiddle and sings background vocals
- 1977 – Rick Danko, by Rick Danko (of the Band) (Arista): Sahm plays lead guitar on two tracks; two photos of Sahm on inner sleeve
- 1979 – Live From The Old Soap Creek Saloon, by Freda & the Firedogs (Big Wheel Records): Sahm sings lead on one track
- 1982 – Redneck in a Rock 'n' Roll Bar, by Red Jenkins (Shannon Records, Sweden): duet with Doug Sahm on the title track
- 1998 – Los Super Seven, by Los Super Seven (RCA, BMG): Sahm sings on one track
- 2001 – Texas Rain, by Townes Van Zandt (Tomato): Sahm plays 12-string guitar and duets on one track, recorded in the late 1980s
- 2002 – Songs of Sahm, by the Bottle Rockets (Bloodshot Records)
- 2009 – Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm, by various artists (Vanguard Records)
- Sir Douglas Quintet
- Texas Tornados
- Reid, Jan (2010). Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-72244-6.
- "Douglas Wayne Sahm". Texas State Historical Association. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Brown, Andrew. liner notes from Doug Sahm: San Antonio Rock: the Harlem Recordings 1957–1961. Norton Records CED-274, 2000.
- Pareles, Jon (November 22, 1999). "Doug Sahm, Musical Voice of Texas, Dies at 58". The New York Times.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 503. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "1960s......And Who Was Mr. Jones?" in All Across the Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook, Ed. Michael Gray and John Bauldie
- Ben Graham - "Lone Star Saint: Roky Erickson's Solo Career In Review" - The Quietus, 20 November 2013 (retrieved 2015-11-11)
- 1968 Rolling Stone Covers : Photos : Rolling Stone