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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 99 15:51:57 -0800
Subject: Doug Sahm
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Forwarded-by: Jef Jaisun <email@example.com>
From: the LA Times
Saturday, November 20, 1999
Doug Sahm; Musician Blended Rock, Country and Blues in Colorful Career
By RICHARD CROMELIN, Times Staff Writer
Doug Sahm, a colorful Texas musician who hit the charts in the mid-1960s
disguised as the British Invasion band theSir Douglas Quintet, was found
dead Thursday in Taos, N.M. He was 58.
Sahm's body was discovered Thursday afternoon in a room at the Kachina
Lodge, said a Taos police spokesman, who said he apparently died of natural
causes. An autopsy was ordered. The San Antonio native had complained of
stomach pains Wednesday night and of a loss of feeling in his fingers in
recent weeks. "Musically speaking, this is the end of an era," Sahm's oldest
son, Shawn, 34, told the San Antonio Express-News. "He went from sitting on
Hank Williams' knee to being an English rock star to doing the Texas
Tornados. From T-Bone Walker to Roky Erickson, he played it all."
Sahm, whose music blended country, rock, blues, R&B, Texas swing and Mexican
strains, first performed at the age of 5, singing on a radio station in San
Antonio. He also performed with such country stars as Williams at their San
Antonio shows, playing pedal steel guitar, fiddle and mandolin. Billed as
Little Doug Sahm, he released his first record, "A Real American Joe," on
the local Sarg label in 1955.
In addition to country music, Sahm, a Lebanese American who grew up in a
black neighborhood, immersed himself in the blues, seeing such musicians as
Walker and Bobby Blue Bland at a nightclub near his home. His break came
in the mid-1960s when Louisiana record producer Huey P. Meaux, seeking to
jump on the British Invasion bandwagon, urged Sahm to form a longhaired band
and write a song with a Cajun two-step beat, which he considered the
signature rhythm of the day's English hits.
Teaming up with keyboardist Augie Meyers and three other musicians, Sahm
came up with "She's About a Mover." Meaux named the band the Sir Douglas
Quintet, and they had an international hit in 1965. That was the start of
an odyssey for Sahm, who never matched the success of the first hit, but
whose gregarious personality and flavorful music made him a favorite of
fellow musicians and a small but loyal audience.
"Doug was too independent and raw to ever achieve the steady commercial
success that was often predicted for him," Robert Hilburn, pop music critic
for The Times, said Friday. "But those same elements enabled him to lift
your spirits as surely as anyone who ever stepped on a honky-tonk or rock
'n' roll stage. At his best, he was an American musical treasure."
Sahm moved to San Francisco in the mid-1960s and embraced the hippie
lifestyle, as documented in his second-best-known song, "Mendocino." Record
producer Jerry Wexler brought him to Atlantic Records and recorded a 1973
album with guests including Bob Dylan and Dr. John, but it didn't revive
him commercially. He also recorded for Warner Bros., but worked mainly for
small, independent labels.
"It's the old thing with Texas cats and record companies," Sahm told The
Times in 1980. "It's not that we're hard to work with. I think we're hard
to mold." Sahm, who was always able to live comfortably on his songwriting
royalties, was revitalized by some European succes in the early 1980s. He
returned to the major label league with the group the Texas Tornados, which
he formed in 1989 with longtime cohorts Meyers, Freddy Fender and Flaco
Jimenez. The group recorded three albums for Reprise Nashville and one for
Reprise, winning a 1990 Grammy for best Mexican American performance.
Sahm was a fast-talking, high-energy character, said Bill Bentley, senior
vice president of media relations at Warner Bros. Records and a longtime
friend of Sahm's. "The joke was, you'd ask someone if they talked to Doug
today and they'd say, 'No, I listened.' "
Sahm, a longtime resident of Austin, referred to the front seat of his
beloved Cadillacs as his "office," Bentley said, and enjoyed driving from
Texas to Los Angeles for a haircut, or to San Francisco to see a dentist.
And contrary to the image of the hard-living rocker, Sahm was a
health-conscious man who loved playing and coaching in local softball
© 1999 Peter Langston