Kerry Awn created this portrait of musician and cultural hero Doug Sahm in 2008, a few years after Sahm's death in 1999.
Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999), was an American musician 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. 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 Jimenez as well as Los Super Seven.
Sahm was proficient on multiple musical instruments and was a lifelong baseball fan.
Sahm began his musical career singing and playing steel guitar, mandolin and violin as "Little" Doug Sahm. He made his radio debut at the age five and released his first record "A Real American Joe" at age eleven. On December 19, 1952, still eleven years old, 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 is said to have been offered a permanent spot on the Grand Ole Opry, but his mother wanted him to finish junior high.
One of Sahm's earliest recordings was rejected by Mercury Records in 1953. Also 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 during 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.
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 Sahm's Texas accent and that two of five band member were Hispanic. Some early publicity photos were shot in silhouette to hide this fact.
The band had a top 20 US 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."
Bob Dylan stated, "Look, for me right now there are three groups: Butterfield, The Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet."
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. He sang backing vocals on Willie Nelson's 1977 gospel album, The Troublemaker.
In 1983, Sahm and Meyers signed with the Swedish Sonet label, and made several extensive European tours that 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, Doug moved to Canada and then returned to Texas in 1988.
In 1990, Sahm formed the Tex-Mex supergroup, the Texas Tornados, with Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jimenez. The original group recorded seven albums (including 2 LIVE ones, and a "Best of" collection) and won a Grammy. 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. 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.
Sahm died of a heart attack in his sleep in a motel room in Taos, New Mexico, on November 18, 1999.
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.
The 2001 album "Dress Me Slowly" by You Am I features a song titled "Doug Sahm".
In October 2012, a group of musicians—including Dave Alvin, Steve Earle, Delbert McClinton, Boz Scaggs, and Jimmie Vaughan among others—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.
Sahm appeared as a fictionalized character in the 2011 Stephen King novel 11.22.63.
• 1970 – Together After Five (Mercury, Evangeline) The Sir Douglas Quintet
• 1971 - The Return of Doug Saldaña (Mercury) The Sir Douglas Quintet
• 1973 – Doug Sahm and Band (Atlantic)
• 1973 – Texas Tornado (Atlantic) as The Sir Douglas Band
• 1974 – Groover's Paradise (Warner Bros, Collectors' Choice) with The Tex Mex Trip
• 1976 – Texas Rock for Country Rollers (abc, Edsel) as Sir Doug & The Texas Tornados
• 1980 – Hell of a Spell (Takoma)
• 1982 - Still Growing (Sonet, UK) Augie Meyers with Doug Sahm
• 1983 - The West Side Sound Rolls Again (Teardrop) Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, The West Side Horns
• 1984 - Live: Goin' To San Antone (P-Vine Special, Japan)
• 1987 - Doug Sahm presents the Texas Mavericks (New Rose, France) as The Texas Mavericks
• 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 HQ, Austin, Texas
• 1988 – Live (Line, Bear Tracks)
• 1989 – Juke Box Music (Antone's)
• 1991 - Live In Japan 1990 (Stony Plain / Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab) with The Amos Garrett - Doug Sahm - Gene Taylor Band
• 1994 – The Last Real Texas Blues Band (Discovery) featuring Doug Sahm, half LIVE at Antone's, Austin, Texas in 1988
• 1998 – SDQ '98 (Watermelon) with The Gourds, + founders & second generation SDQ members
• 2000 – The Return of Wayne Douglas (Tornado)
• 2012 - The Return of Wayne Douglas (Steady Boy) 1st release on vinyl LP
• 2012 - Live in Stockholm (San Antonio Records), 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 1 track
• 1995 – His Early Years (Collectables)
• 1995 – Get on Up (Collectables)
• 1993 - Hole in The Wall 20th Anniversary (Maverick) LIVE collection with 3 rare Texas Mavericks tracks + other artists
• 1992 – The Best of Doug Sahm's Atlantic Sessions (Rhino)
• 1992 - Beach Music Sampler (Antone's) 2 studio songs by Sahm + other Antone's artists
• 1985 – Texas Road Runner / The Renner Sides 1961-1964 (Moonshine, Belgium) early singles, 1st 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) 3LPs each volume, with from 1 to 3 Doug Sahm songs on 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, sings background vocals
• 1977 - Rick Danko by Rick Danko of The Band (Arista) Sahm plays lead guitar on 2 tracks, 2 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 1 track
• 1982 - Redneck In A Rock 'n' Roll Bar by Red Jenkins (Shannon Records, Sweden) duet with Doug Sahm on title track
• 1998 - Los Super Seven by Los Super Seven (RCA, BMG) Sahm sings on 1 track
• 2001 - Texas Rain by Townes Van Zandt (Tomato) Sahm plays 12-string guitar + duets on 1 track, recorded late 1980s
• 2002 – Songs of Sahm by the Bottle Rockets, (Bloodshot Records)
• 2009 – Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm -Various Artists (Vanguard Records)
• Sir Douglas Quintet
• Texas Tornados
• Bottle Rockets
• Reid, Jan (2010). Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-72244-6.
• 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.
• • 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
• 1968 Rolling Stone Covers : Photos : Rolling Stone
• The Doug Sahm Pages – History and Complete Discography
• Doug Sahm at AllMusic
• Austin Chronicle Doug Sahm Memorial Issue
• City of Austin Approves the Naming of Doug Sahm Hill – April 10, 2008