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Sahm, Doug

Doug Sahm (Douglas Wayne Sahm -  Born 6 November 1941, San Antonio, Texas
- died 18 November 1999, Taos, New Mexico. His parents were
mainly of German & Irish origin, and not Lebanese as is
sometimes stated) 

(Alias Sir Douglas, Doug Saldaña, Wayne Douglas, Samm Dogg, The Texas Tornado and others !)

1947 - At age 6, he performs "Teardrops in My Heart" on KMAC's "Stars Over San Antonio" show. At this point, Sahm is already proficient on triple-neck steel guitar, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and playing by ear ! This was followed by two years of radio appearances on the Mutual network. He became a featured player on the Louisiana Hayride country radio program by age eight, .Known as Little Doug Sahm, he would often sit in at live performances of such greats as Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson and Faron Young.

1952 - At age 11, performs onstage with Hank Williams at the Skyline Club, Austin, less than two weeks before Williams's death.

In the mid-1950s, he started sneaking into San Antonio R&B clubs such as the Tiffany Lounge and the Ebony Lounge, and he was soon performing at the same venues. Later in the decade, Sahm joined up with Spot Barnett's band playing mostly black San Antonio blues clubs.

His first released recording was "A Real American Joe" & "Rollin' Rollin'" by 'Little Doug & The Bandits' in 1955, and around this time he also began his long association with Augie Meyers. His musical career began in earnest with Crazy Crazy Daisy (Warrior, 1958) and Crazy Daisy (Satin, 1959). He formed the Markays, which released If You Ever Need Me and Sapphire (Harlem, 1960), and then fused them with the band of keyboardist Augie Meyers. The combined band, with the name the Sir Douglas Quintet, had a hit single, She's About A Mover (1965), during the heydays of Mersey-beat. The Best of Sir Douglas Quintet (Tribe Mono, 1965) was their only album at this time.

In 1956 he had seen Elvis Presley play in San Antonio. "I was a kid for rock 'n' roll when I saw Elvis, It blew my mind. I saw Elvis, got in front of the mirror, shake, shake, shake. Then the '60s came along, I have all these local hits in San Antonio, and then all of a sudden we turn on the TV and there's the long-haired thing from Liverpool. So, we say, "Hey Huey (Meaux), we can do this crap; let's go get after it..." (American-Statesman interview, 1994).

The group's name was chosen in a deliberate effort to make the band seem British - this image had it's problems, particularly Sahm's obvious Texas accent and that two-fifths of the band were of Mexican origin ! Some early publicity photos of the band showed them only in silhouette to hide this fact. (So great was the Quintet’s fame at the time that the Rolling Stones opened for them on one of the Stones’ first American tours.)

Since 1965, Doug Sahm has released records under his own name, as well as fronting several bands including the Honkey Blues Band, the revived Sir Douglas Quintet, The Texas Tornados, The Texas Mavericks (with Alvin Crow) and The Last Real Texas Blues Band. Generally speaking, these groups consisted of Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, and whoever they happened to be making music with at the time. The Texas Tornados, formed in 1990, included Sahm and Meyers plus Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender, both long-time stars of the Tex-Mex music scene.

"He could flip from genre to genre at a whim," marveled Texas Monthly writer Joe Nick Patoski. "He epitomized the Austin music scene better than anyone else."

His musical connections reached far beyond Texas too. He had a large fan-base in Europe, Canada. Japan and elsewhere. He took part in sessions for two different Grateful Dead albums, and on others with Willie Nelson (The Troublemaker,1973), Townes Van Zandt, Amos Garrett, Gene Taylor & Alvin Crow. Elvis Costello and Los Lobos have cited him as a major influence, as have younger groups like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and the Gourds. His two sons Shandon and Shawn along with Augie's son, Clay Meyers, all performed and recorded with Sahm in the 1990's and now pursue musical careers of their own -

Shawn Sahm & the Tex Mex Experience - & MySpace

Shandon Sahm

Clay Meyers

Bob Dylan interview 1965 - At the San Francisco Press Conference broadcast live on on KQED-TV Dec. 3, 1965, a reporter asks, "Are there any young folksingers that you recommend we hear?" and Dylan replies, "I'm glad you asked that...Oh yeah, there's the Sir Douglas Quintet. I think are probably the best that are going to have a chance to reach the commercial airwaves. They already have with a couple of songs."

Dylan and Sahm first met around this time, perhaps in California. However, the very first dates Dylan played with The Hawks in 1965 took place in Austin, so they possibly met there too. Like Dylan, Sahm was also a lifelong baseball fan.and actually did some live radio commentaries (Anyone got a tape ? !!)

Collaborations with Dylan -

Doug Sahm and Band sessions, October 1972 - the New York Atlantic Studio sessions produced by Jerry Wexler. Dylan plays guitar, organ, piano & harmonica and sings on several songs including "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone ?", "Faded Love", Willie Nelson's "Me and Paul", and Dylan's own "Wallflower".('Doug Sahm and Band' 1972, 'Texas Tornado' 1973 and the limited release 'The Genuine Texas Groover' 2003)

1988-08-24 - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - She's About A Mover - Sahm on vocals with Dylan & his band to close the show.

1995-11-05 - Austin Music Hall, Austin, Texas - Sahm on vocals & guitar for 3 songs Dylan : "Thank you. I wanna bring up one of my really old buddies, Doug Sahm ! ...Everybody knows Doug and we go back a long way...Seems like a long way........ " (before Maggie's Farm).

Doug : "Austin, Texas, do we love this dude or what ? He's one of the greatest cats ! ....I'm telling you man, I gotta say it. ....And tomorrow's my birthday and tomorrow this year will be thirty years this man's been a beautiful friend of mine and I love him. I wish everybody in the world could know him like I do, I love this dude. Thank you, Austin, Texas ! Thank you Bob Dylan.... !" (after Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues).

Interview with Augie Meyers - "Dylan back in S.A" - San Antonio Express-News 2006 by Hector Saldaña

"Bob Dylan is a genius"

The early hard-strummed folk songs, and later his electrically sneered vitriol, rattled the pop world, forever setting Dylan on equal footing with Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. That's not just the assessment of elite music journalists, filmmakers and fans who have followed, dissected, been affected by and glorified the enigmatic, volatile rock icon who plays Municipal Auditorium tonight with Merle Haggard.

But it's also the opinion of good friend Augie Meyers. San Antonio's favorite son and king of the Vox Continental has an open invitation from Dylan. He has often performed and recorded with him, most recently on acclaimed albums "Time Out of Mind" and "Love and Theft." He first recorded with Dylan in 1972 in New York for the "Doug Sahm and Band" album.

Early on, it was Dylan who praised the relatively obscure Sir Douglas Quintet as one of his favorite bands. "He always said, 'Hey, I really liked what you all did,'" Meyers said.

But their communion is much deeper than a mutual admiration society: Dylan and Meyers are musicians who connect and respect each other. Meyers holds Tom Waits in the same high regard. About Dylan's magic: "He's a great musician, you know. He plays guitar, but he's a great piano player," Meyers said. (Editor's note: At a show in Las Vegas last week, Dylan played keyboard all night.) The Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados legend added that Dylan is quiet, reserved — "a pleasure to record with and he knows what he wants."

On a recording session, Dylan will show his musicians a song by simply playing it on guitar or piano "and then you just take it from there." He's not a dictator and is open to musical suggestions, Meyers said. "When we were in the studio one time, he said, 'If you and Doug were gonna do this song, how would you do it?'" said Meyers. Dylan likes to cut live. "It's got to have the groove right there," Meyers said. "He's a genius. To just sit there and watch him work is fantastic."

Why the friendship? "I guess it's a style and a chemistry. We can work. When he starts singing and playing, you can just play right behind him. I was able to do that with Doug (Sahm) and Doug was able to do that with me. Maybe I'm just one of those people that can follow."

About Scorcese's recent documentary ? : "Kinda weird," Meyers said !

Some notable covers of Dylan songs by Doug Sahm -

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - 'Live Texas Tornado' Sir Douglas Quintet 1983 Just Like a Woman - The Return of the Formerly Brothers' (w/Amos Garrett & Gene Taylor) 1988 To Ramona - 'Texas Tornados' (1st album, 1990) Love Minus Zero/No Limit - The Return of Wayne Douglas' (1999) (his last album)

Sir Douglas sidemen - Among many outstanding musicians in his bands, the following went on to other work with Dylan -

Larry Campbell - guitarist & violinist with Sir Douglas Quintet on at least two of their European tours in 1984 & 1985 and later with Bob Dylan's band as multi-instrumentalist from 1997 to 2004.

Denny Freeman - guitarist on Doug Sahm and Augie Meyer's 'Last Texas Blues Band' album 1994, and on live shows around this time - joined Bob Dylan's tour band in 2005 and played on "Modern Times" album 2006 and "Tell Ol' Bill" for 'North Country' film soundtrack 2005.

Flaco Jimenez - - Played accordion with Dylan on "Across the Borderline" at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland 1990-07-09 & also involved on the 1972 Atlantic sessions.

Augie Meyers - played keyboards and accordion on two of Dylan's albums - 'Time Out of Mind' 1997, and 'Love & Theft' 2001. Quote from Bob Dylan (date unknown) - "I've loved his playing going all the way back to the Sir Doug days when he was featured and dominant. What makes him so great is that internally speaking, he's the master of syncopation and timing. And this is something that cannot be taught. If you need someone to get you through the shipping lanes and there's no detours, Augie will get you right straight through….Augie's your man."

"...Bob Dylan loves Texas. He was good friends with Doug Sahm, has toured with Willie Nelson several times, and seems to have employed half the Austin music scene in his band at one time or another: Charlie Sexton, Denny Freeman, Augie Meyers, Elana James..." Austin Chronicle Mar 8, 2007

She's About A Mover - by Dave Marsh - Austin Chronicle, November 2002 In 1965, I heard a record on the Detroit radio stations that called out to me like "Louie Louie" itself. It had a funky ole beat, a screamingly cheesy organ riff, and a bulldozer vocal that gave me the impression that I was listening to a group with permanent hard-ons (by which I don't necessarily mean just erections). Then I saw them, on Shindig or Hullabaloo, and it was like going from black & white to color TV -- so powerful! I always remember it as being in color, but it couldn't have been, because we didn't have color TV yet. It was supposed to be an English band, but I was pretty sure there weren't any large Mexican organ players anywhere in the UK. What mattered more was that the lead singer had hair so long he made Brian Jones seem crewcut. In the way only the greatest records can, every time you hear it, "She's About a Mover" still sounds like the best rock & roll ever made, still sounds fresh, still sounds like a mountain you've gotta climb just to get wherever the people who made it live. Going over old Bob Dylan interviews, I realize he always cited Sir Douglas Quintet as the best of the new rock & roll groups. He was right. So was my 15-year-old self. But mainly, so were Doug and Augie. I bow to no one in my love for Buddy Holly, ? & the Mysterians, and Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. But this is the greatest of 'em all.

She's About A Mover - by Gregory Curtis Doug Sahm's brand of music is fun, funky, fundamental—Next time you leave home pack Texas Tornado next to your boots Doug Sahm learned to play in San Antonio where the music has a]ways been a blend of various styles-country, rhythm and blues, Latin, even cajun-a blend refined in country roadhouses or wood frame bars that serve only beer, or at the kind of high school prom where guys with slick hair have rented blue and black brocade tuxes, or in "nite" clubs with fast reputations, places with the kind of ambience that draws Doug to write sticky, maudlin goodbad songs like "She's Huggin' You But She's Lookin' At Me." It was a good thing, too, for he was going to need something to fall back on. "Mover"'s producer, a Houston record company owner named Huey Meaux who over the years has recorded some of the best Texas and Louisiana musical talent, tried to mold Doug's band after the English groups whose songs were just then starting to dominate the rock and roll airways. He tagged the band The Sir Douglas Quintet, had them let their hair grow (Meaux thinks they were the first American band to adopt long hair), and sure enough they rode "Mover"'s success to a national television appearance on Hullabaloo, a U.S. tour with James Brown, and a European tour on a bill with The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. Heady stuff. In just six months Doug had gone from a San Antonio barroom musician to a rock and roll star.

Texas Monthly - April 2004 - Top 10 of the "100 Best Texas Songs" by Jeff McCord and John Morthland Number 1 - Sir Douglas Quintet "She's About a Mover "If anything, the song sounds more audacious now than it did when it first shot to number thirteen on the national charts in 1965, at the height of the British Invasion. First, you've got that two-step rhythm—always common in regional Tex-Mex, country, and Cajun-zydeco but not in rock and roll, not then or now. Then you've got those maniacal dit-dit-dit-dits from organ jockey Augie Meyers; he claims he owned the first Vox in the nation, which supposedly provided the English vibe, but the way he used it mainly served to make a direct connection with Tex-Mex accordion. Finally, there's Doug Sahm's great, and always underappreciated, rock vocals—hard and fast, with a Little Richard-like intensity, but also still melodic—and his delightfully cockeyed lyrics and title. Which make more sense, actually, if you know that the song was originally called "She's a Body Mover," an offhand comment Sahm had made about a girl dirty-dancing at one of his shows. But what's most amazing is that a giddier and less-worldly rock audience back then actually bought manager-producer Huey P. Meaux's hype that this racially mixed group (white and brown) was the newest sensation from England. That ruse lasted only until the heavily accented musicians first opened their mouths in public for any purpose except singing—yet the song endures. And the reason is that sound. You could say that it couldn't possibly have come from nowhar else but Texas, but even that's a little vague; "She's About a Mover" couldn't possibly have come from nowhar else but San Antone !"

Interview with Clifford Antone - KGSR 2000 - Q: The Antone's label has received a couple of Grammy nominations over the years. And one went to your friend, the late legendary Texas rocker, Doug Sahm. The two discs that Doug recorded for Antone's were pure blues. How did you get a guy who is noted for playing so many styles to focus on the blues for his Antone's releases?

A: Well, where do you start with Doug Sahm? You know, I don't think I ever met a musician so versatile. I don't believe I ever met a musician who could play so many styles of music correctly as Doug Sahm. So it was a chore. But, you know, I never met anyone that so many people around the world considered their best friend. All over the world, everyone thinks Doug's their best friend. And so did I. And we did have a very great friendship. And we loved the Louisiana swamp pop and the Guitar Slim blues. And so we had talked about it. And I told him exactly what I wanted to do. We had a show at the club when Doug was living in Canada. He -- a lot of people didn't know he even existed anymore in those years. And so we did a show with all the San Antonio guys. And Randy Garibay came. And they did that song "What's Your Name" together. And that was so powerful that I knew -- right at that song, I knew, we had to record this. So I got Doug Sahm outside on the front porch and we talked about it. And we agreed to do it and how to do it. And it wasn't going to be any, y'know, farfisas or anything. It was going to be straight ahead rhythm & blues and Louisiana swamp pop. And he stuck with it. And George Rains helped me a lot producing it. And it just was a great thing. The song we picked -- I picked for this album is "She Put the Hurt on Me." George Rains really picked that song. And he listened to it at the store. And I said, that's great. And Doug said he could do it. And we did it. Doug wasn't sure he could do it. But George and I knew he could do it.

And he -- it's such an unusual thing. I mean, most people haven't, haven't heard Otis Redding do it. But, you know, so it's an obscure cut. And he just nailed it. And it's such a dance tune and stuff, that it's a lot of joy and people enjoy it a lot. So that's the one I picked, but every song on the album is beautiful. "Juke Box Music" is just one of the best Texas recordings ever, I believe.

Doug Sahm by Rev. John Jennings - 23 November 1999

I hope I am a late comer to the tributes to Doug Sahm - Sir Doug. He was a shining light in the Texas music scene in the 1960s through the 1990s, A child prodigy guitarist who had his own scene in the 1950s. He was raised in San Antonio, Texas in the strange mix between the racist 50s and the racist 90s. He - I read - once sat in the lap of Hank Williams and played guitar for him. He had some local hits with teenage bands back then. He was a true non-racist who always had Mexican Americans in his bands playing the best mix grooving sounds that later inspired ? and the Mysterians (96 tears) as well as a lot of other bands...A genuine nice guy who wrote songs full of soul and funky blues as well as a wonderful mix of the mexican cojunto feel.

In the sixties when the British thing was happening he and his producer - Huey Muex (the crazy cajun, as he was known then) decided to release "She's About A Mover" - on the psychedilic compilation "Nuggets" BTW - and pass themselves off as a British band ! They suceeded beyond their wildest beliefs. The song went top ten in the nation. He apparently befriended Bob Dylan back then and their is a wonderful picture of him with a 1965 era Bob hanging out and partying. Alas, Doug was arrested for possesion of pot in Texas and left for California for a self imposed exile for several years and didn't come back to Texas until the mid 70s. When he came back to Austin-San Antonio in 1972-3, he came back with the original Sir Douglas Quintet that brought him his earlier fame. He went on to release 10 + excellent albums with several major record companies and had a HUGE audience and fan base in Austin and San Antonio.

A small wirey hundred mile a minute talking guy his long blonde hair and cowboy hat hid a man who wore his heart on his sleeve - the best place - a friend to all who would approach him and engage him.. He won a Grammy with his band TEXAS TORNADOS in the nineties. A small footnote for us Dylan fans...when Bob played Austin in 1995 he invited Doug on stage to do "Tom Thuimb Blues" with him and Doug was his wonderful self when his chance for a verse came he took an extra verse from Bob telling him how much Austin loved him (and we do!). But Doug, there will never be another one like you or Bob. Go your way in peace and thanks for giving us so much of your soul. - Rev. John Jennings

Play Misty For Me - by Chet Flippo, Austin Chronicle, 28 November 1999

When I was living in Austin in the early Seventies and going to graduate school at UT, I met Doug Sahm while writing a cover story on him for a relatively new music and counterculture magazine called Rolling Stone. You could not live in Texas and not know about Doug and I knew his early records well. What I did not expect was that we would become such friends. In hindsight, I wonder how you could not become friends with him.

Doug was the ultimate musician, the ultimate storyteller, the ultimate charmer. And he was completely and thoroughly sincere. A thoroughly soulful cat, as he might even say about himself. At any rate, we hung out a lot. He would bring his kids over to swim in the pool and have barbecues afterward at my apartment on Enfield Road.

Doug had recently moved back to Texas after his San Francisco psychedelic days and was musically weighing his balances. The world didn't really know the extent of his music mastery at that point, and I'm not sure he ever did either. At any rate, Doug had rented an old house next to the Soap Creek Saloon on Bee Caves Road in West Austin, and it became a classic bachelor pad. I spent many afternoons on the front porch with Doug, talking music and listening to music. Naturally, he played, too. It was ... it was country, it was swing, it was bluegrass, it was jazz.

Why jazz? I asked. Doug put Miles Davis' Kind of Blue on the turntable and proceeded to give me an education on modern jazz. He knew it all, knew modern jazz from A to Z, knew it back again from Z to A. Told me more than I needed to know. Best of all, Doug gave me a tape that I treasure to this day. It's him, Doug, hosting a free-form jazz show on KSAN in San Francisco, and he's so low-key, so Mr. jazz expert that he sounds like what Clint Eastwood later tried to be in Play Misty for Me.

Links -
Doug Sahm official website (Amigos de Musica) The Doug Sahm Pages Austin Chronicle pages Augie Meyers official website Texas Almanac Memorial page

Stewart Grant, Feb. 2008

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