Texas music fans know him as the larger than life icon behind the hits, "She's About A Mover" and "Mendocino". Doug Sahm left his mark on Texas music and now a new book chronicles his lengthy career
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"Doug was like me, maybe the only figure from that period of time that I connected with. His was a big soul. He had a hit record, 'She's About a Mover,' and I had a hit record ['Like a Rolling Stone'] at the same time. So we became buddies back then, and we played the same kind of music. We never really broke apart. We always hooked up at certain intervals in our lives. . . . I'd never met anyone who'd played on stage with Hank Williams before, let alone someone my own age. Doug had a heavy frequency, and it was in his nerves. . . . I miss Doug. He got caught in the grind. He should still be here."
"I once made the analogy that Doug was like St. Sebastian—pierced by 1,000 arrows—but instead of blood, talent coming out of every wound. I really regard him as the best musician I ever knew, because of his versatility, and the range of his information and taste."
—Jerry Wexler, Atlantic Records producerDoug Sahm was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist of legendary range and reputation. The first American musician to capitalize on the 1960s British invasion, Sahm vaulted to international fame leading a faux-British band called the Sir Douglas Quintet, whose hits included "She's About a Mover," "The Rains Came," and "Mendocino." He made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1968 and 1971 and performed with the Grateful Dead, Dr. John, Willie Nelson, Boz Scaggs, and Bob Dylan.Texas Tornado is the first biography of this national music legend. Jan Reid traces the whole arc of Sahm's incredibly versatile musical career, as well as the manic energy that drove his sometimes turbulent personal life and loves. Reid follows Sahm from his youth in San Antonio as a prodigy steel guitar player through his breakout success with the Sir Douglas Quintet and his move to California, where, with an inventive take on blues, rock, country, and jazz, he became a star in San Francisco and invented the "cosmic cowboy" vogue. Reid also chronicles Sahm's later return to Texas and to chart success with the Grammy Award–winning Texas Tornados, a rowdy "conjunto rock and roll band" that he modeled on the Beatles and which included Sir Douglas alum Augie Meyers and Tejano icons Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez.With his exceptional talent and a career that bridged five decades, Doug Sahm was a rock and roll innovator whose influence can only be matched among his fellow Texas musicians by Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Janis Joplin, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Texas Tornado vividly captures the energy and intensity of this musician whose life burned out too soon, but whose music continues to rock.
Check out this video: South Texas Soul: The San Antonio Sound - documentary trailer
South Texas Soul – Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm and the history and influence of South Texas on popular music of today. Documentary filmmaker Tracy Ready examines the influence of German, Polish and Irish immigrants in South Texas on popular music styles including Country, Tejano, Blues and Rock and Roll, from a unique perspective. Musician Augie Meyers has taken the music of San Antonio to audiences the world over through performances and recordings dating back to the 1950’s. His long list of credits include Grammy award winning albums and extensive touring with Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados, solo albums dating back to the early 1970’s, motion picture soundtracks, and performance credits on landmark albums for a host of influential American musicians including Bob Dylan, Doug Sahm and John Hammond, Jr. Meyers’ life as the son of Polish immigrants, who grew up in the multi-cultural melting pot that is San Antonio and then took that sound to the world, is the central focal point of the documentary, but the story begins much earlier. The South Texas Soul will follow the story and musical influence of the earliest European immigrants to Texas, and carry it through to the modern age. The film will weave interviews and insights from working musicians of today, historians and fans with archival photos and rare performance footage. It traces the earliest entry of the accordion to the south Texas to the story of Augie Meyers, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and the Texas Tornados, and beyond to a new generation of the South Texas sound, carried on by such artists as Los Lonely Boys, Charlie and Bruce Robison, Robert Earl Keen and Shawn Sahm’s Tex-Mex Experience. Tracy Ready will write, direct and produce the documentary in High Definition (1080 24p) with archival footage and photos from the past. STATUS ANALYSIS: Initial principal interviews were conducted in San Antonio in 2008 with Augie Meyers and Jim Beal, Jr. historian and music writer for San Antonio Express News. Additional footage of Augie in session recording his current solo album at Blue Cat Studios was also acquired as a starting point for the film. Included also in the film will be never before seen interview and performance footage of Augie Meyers in an interview with Tracy Ready in 1989. Support the making of this film with tax deductible donation to Still Kickin' Foundation, a 501 C-3 non profit organization dedicated to capturing the stories of older Americans who have done great things late in life. Donate today www.stillkickin.org Thanks for watching, and for your support.
Remembering 'Texas Tornado' Doug Sahm
Sir Doug, who died 10 years ago, honored with new CD and several events at SXSW
SPECIAL TO THE AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Monday, March 16, 2009
can never repay the people who make you into who you're supposed to be.
That's what Doug did for me — he made me into someone I was always
supposed to be. And he gave me the confidence to be that person."
Bill Bentley is on the phone from Los Angeles, talking about his
friend and mentor Doug Sahm. Sahm, the protean San Antonio native who
wove the wonderful and diverse strands of Texas roots music into a
funky, multihued tapestry, died 10 years ago come November. Though he
never racked up a string of hits, the name of this motormouthed,
self-anointed "Texas Tornado" deserves to be writ large, alongside
other pioneering Lone Star giants such as Ornette Coleman, Buddy Holly
and Bob Wills.
Thanks to Bentley — former Austinite, journalist, record company
executive and producer — and a lot of other folks, Sahm, his music and
his legacy will have large roles in this year's South by Southwest
Music Conference and Festival. He will be f?ted at the Austin Music
Awards on Wednesday in a tribute starring his son Shawn, his former
bandmate Augie Meyers and Alejandro Escovedo. Another show pays homage
the following night at Antone's with Jimmie Vaughan, the Gourds, Dave
Alvin and more. And Sahm's hippie era masterpiece, the 1969 album
"Mendocino," (made when he was with the Sir Douglas Quintet) will be
dissected at a SXSW panel at noon on Saturday, which Bentley will
One thing is for sure — Sahm himself would have eaten it up with a spoon.
"Doug wasn't a conceited guy, but he knew he was great," said
Bentley, who dates his and Sahm's friendship to a night in 1971 when
Sahm showed up at an Austin gig where Bentley was playing drums in a
campus-area beer joint.
"He didn't make a big deal out of it. But when you played with Doug
Sahm — and I played with him a couple of times — you always played
"I saw him do whole sets with bands he'd never met. He didn't even
know their names. He just went for it. Trust your soul, man. Trust your
But Bentley isn't content to merely recycle good times and old
memories. Together with co-producers Shawn Sahm and David Katznelson,
he is the driving force behind "Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug
Sahm," a collection that will be released on the Vanguard label on
March 24. Featuring performances of Sahm originals by the likes of Los
Lobos, Delbert McClinton, the Gourds, Alejandro Escovedo, a reunited
Freda and the Firedogs (the '70s country-rock band fronted by singer
Marcia Ball), East L.A. Chicano star Little Willie G. and others, the
album not only mirrors Sahm's restless eclecticism, it reveals the
enduring influence he has had on a dizzying array of musicians.
"I give Doug credit in practically every interview, particularly
when I'm asked about influences," said Ball, who has evolved into a
star in her own right. "He opened a lot of doors and focused a lot of
attention on Austin by virtue of his own fame. The whole thing of Jerry
Wexler coming to Austin, that happened because of Doug." (The famous
Atlantic Records producer, who worked with the likes of Ray Charles and
Aretha Franklin and invented the term "rhythm and blues," dedicated his
autobiography to Sahm.)
Escovedo, who covers Sahm's "Too Little Too Late" on "Keep Your
Soul," echoed the sentiment. "If someone asked me to do a tribute to
whomever, I might consider it, I might not. But this one was a
no-brainer," he said.
"Doug was a major fixture in Texas music and my upbringing. When I
was growing up in Southern California, I embraced surfing, I embraced
English rock 'n' roll, and rock 'n' roll in general. There weren't a
lot of Chicano kids doing all that stuff. I was in a no-man's-land, in
a way. Doug, on the other hand, came from an Anglo upbringing and
embraced Chicano culture and Mexican music, and made it this totally
different thing. He integrated a sound like no one had ever done
"He was a complete musician in the best of the Texas sense. You
know, is he a hippie, is he a rocker, is he a country dude, a blues
guy? But he was all those things. He represented freedom. That's always
been extremely important to me."
Bentley, who produced two preceding tribute albums honoring Roky
Erickson and Moby Grape's Skip Spence, knows that many, if not most of
SXSW's forward-looking hipsters, might not know who Doug Sahm is. They
might not know that he cut his first hit, "She's About A Mover," in
1965, might not know that his career was bookended by two wonderful
bands (the '60s-era Sir Douglas Quintet and the all-star Texas
Tornados), and might not know that his friends and admirers included
Bob Dylan and members of the Rolling Stones.
But, by God, before Bentley's through this week, they will know one thing: "Doug Sahm was fearless."
That, as much as anything, was the quality that endeared Sahm to
Bentley and inspired the younger man to reach beyond his grasp. "He
lived for music, and no matter what style of music you play, that
fearlessness is something all musicians should strive for," Bentley
said. "Doug would play Lefty Frizzell country songs in front of a bunch
of stoned San Francisco acid trippers. That's fearless!
"That's the key to Doug Sahm. He was probably the most fearless
musician I ever met, and that can't be overvalued. If you're gonna
create music, you have to be unafraid."
Toward the end of the conversation, Bentley grows reflective.
"Honestly, I'm still not over him dying. He still talks to me. I'm not
saying he was a perfect guy, because God knows, we're all human. But
there's something that was inspirational about Doug at his best that's
rarely equaled. He could turn people on not only to music, but life. He
loved to get high and live. That was his whole thing."
Doug Sahm events at SXSW
- The Doug Sahm Tribute with Shawn Sahm, Augie Meyers and Alejandro
Escovedo begins at 9:55 p.m. Wednesday at Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces
St., during the Austin Music Awards. The ceremony begins at
7:55 p.m. Tickets are $15 (cash), $16 (charge) at Waterloo Records, 600
N. Lamar Blvd.
- The Doug Sahm Tribute featuring Shawn Sahm, the Gourds, Dave Alvin,
Jimmie Vaughan, Sarah Borges begins at 8 p.m. Thursday at Antone's,
213 W. Fifth St. (This is an official SXSW event.)
- Bill Bentley will moderate the panel "Doug Sahm's 'Mendocino'" from
noon to 1:15 p.m. Saturday in Room 16B of the Austin Convention Center.
On the panel: Harvey Kagan, Augie Meyers. Margaret Moser, Jan Reid and
Shawn Sahm. (Panel for SXSW badgeholders only.)
- The Doug Sahm Tribute with Shawn Sahm, Augie Meyers and Alejandro