A picturesque character who was a living encyclopedia of cajun, rockabilly,
tex-mex, rhythm'n'blues, blues, western swing, Doug Sahm invented "roots-rock"
before they invented the term.
Doug Sahm, an enfant prodige from San Antonio (Texas), debuted as a child, playing guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, and recorded his first single at the age of 11: A Real American Joe (Sarg, 1955). 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 (Harlem, 1960) and Sapphire (Harlem, 1960), and, after a few singles under his own name which are collected on Texas Road Runner (Moonshine, 1985), then fused them with the band of keyboardist Augie Meyers. The combined band, with the name 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.
Attracted by the hippy revolution way west, Sahm left Texas for San Francisco in 1966, where he recorded the psychedelic Sir Douglas Quintet + 2 = Honkey Blues (Smash, 1968). Mendocino (Smash, 1969) established his persona of Bohemian chicano and gave him his first hit, the catchy Mendocino. The season of acid-rock was already at the end, and the Quintet cut an album that marked their return to roots-rock, Together After Five (Smash, 1970), with simple gems like At The Crossroads, Texas Me and Lawd I'm Just A Country Boy. Be Real, from 1 + 1 + 1 = 4 (Phillips, 1970), the last Sir Douglas Quintet album, and Stoned Faces Don't Lie, from The Return of Doug Saldana (Phillips, 1971), the first solo album, were the last significant songs of the San Francisco period, that is summarized on Sir Doug's Recording Trip (Edsel, 1989).
Doug Sahm and Band (Atlantic, 1973) featured a super-group with Dr John on piano, David Bromberg on dobro, Flaco Jimenez on accordion and jazz saxophonist David Newman; and Texas Tornado (Atlantic, 1973) was at least as accomplished. Despite the effervescent stylistic stew, Sahm's music sounded obsolete, and he retreated into lounge rock with Groover's Paradise (Warner, 1974), Texas Rock For Country Rollers (ABC, 1976), containing the Bob Dylan-esque serenade Give Back The Key To My Heart, and Hell of a Spell (Takoma, 1980), which boasts several blues classics.
A reunion of the Sir Douglas Quintet yielded Border Wave (Takoma, 1981), Quintessence (Varrick, 1983), Midnight Sun (Stony Plain, 1983), Back to the 'Dillo (Sonet, 1983), The West Side Sound Rolls Again (Teardrop, 1983), Rio Medina (Stony Plain, 1984), and the hit single Meet Me In Stockholm (1983).
Sahm's career languished for a few years, during which his only album of new material was Juke Box Music (Antone's, 1988).
The Texas Tornados are a super-group featuring Sahm, Meyers, Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender, basically a tex-mex version of the Traveling Wilburys. Texas Tornados (Reprise, 1990) is not only a show of virtuosi, but also a revival of the Quintet's best intuitions, which are recapitulated in Who Were You Thinkin' Of and Adios Mexico. The Tornados later released Zone Of Our Own (Reprise, 1991), Is Anybody Going To San Antone Hangin' On By A Thread (Reprise, 1992) and 4 Aces (Reprise, 1996).
During the 1990s, Sahm re-formed the Sir Douglas Quintet for Day Dreaming At Midnight (Elektra, 1994) and S.D.Q. (Watermelon, 1998).
Doug Sahm died in november 1999 of a heart attack. The Return of Wayne Douglas (2000) was released posthumously.
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