November 6, 1941: Doug Sahm Born

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ds1-300He came into the world as Douglas Wayne Sahm on November 6, 1941 in San Antonio, TX, and is best known for his #13 1965 pop hit “She’s About a Mover” as leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet, and then some 35 years later as a member of the Grammy-winning Texas Tornados along with Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez and Augie Meyers. Around and in between, he played and recorded a full range of American musical styles during his life.

A steel guitar prodigy as a youngster, he performed with Hank Williams at the country music legend’s last show ever and was asked to join the Grand Ole Opry at age 11. Later in his teens Sahm played blues in San Antonio nightclubs while releasing pop singles on local labels.

After the British Invasion hit America, Texas producer Huey Meaux tried to cash in on the latest rage by giving Sahm’s group with Meyers the English-sounding name Sir Douglas Quintet. Sahm spent the late 1960s immersed in the San Francisco Bay Area scene recording and performing rock, pop, blues, R&B and jazz – and scoring a #27 hit as the Sir Douglas Quintet with “Mendocino” – before returning to his home state of Texas, where he became an elder statesman on the booming Austin, TX music scene.

Watch the Sir Douglas Quintet perform “Mendocino” on Playboy After Dark

Signed to Atlantic Records in 1973 by producer Jerry Wexler, he cut the critically acclaimed Doug Sahm and His Band album that featured guests like Bob Dylan, Dr. John and David Bromberg.

Never driven by commercial considerations, Sahm had an encyclopedic knowledge of American roots musical styles and natural feel for them all. That fed into his Tex-Mex “supergroup” the Texas Tornados that found popularity with country and Latin audiences and won a Grammy in 1991 for Best Mexican-American Performance. He died in 1991 from an undiagnosed congenital heart condition, and is the subject of a 2015 documentary film, Sir Doug & the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove (see BCB’s review here).

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