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Doug Sahm
Alternative Folk

Guitarist, composer, arranger, and songwriter Doug Sahm was a knowledgeable music historian and veteran performer equally comfortable in a range of styles, including Texas blues, country, rock & roll, Western swing, and Cajun. Born November 6, 1941 in San Antonio, Texas, he began his performing career at age nine when he was featured on a San Antonio area radio station, playing steel guitar. Sahm began recording for a procession of small labels (Harlem, Warrior, Renner and Personality), in 1955 with "A Real American Joe" under the name Little Doug Sahm. Three years later he was leading a group called the Pharoahs. Sahm recorded a series of singles for Texas-based record companies including "Crazy Daisy" (1959), "Sapphire" (1961), and "If You Ever Need Me" (1964). After being prompted in 1965 to assemble a group by producer Huey Meaux, Sahm asked his friends Augie Meyers (keyboards), Frank Morin (saxophone), Harvey Kagan (bass) and Johnny Perez (drums), if they would join him. Meaux gave the group the name the Sir Douglas Quintet. The group had some success on the radio with "The Rains Came," but Sahm later moved to California after the group broke up, where he formed the Honkey Blues Band. He reformed his Quintet in California and recorded a now-classic single, "Mendocino." The resulting album was a ground-breaking record in the then-emerging country-rock scene. The Sir Douglas Quintet followed Mendocino with Together After Five, another album that led them to a larger fan base. But it was Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler who realized that country rock sounds were coming into vogue (and there was no place in Nashville for people like Sahm), so he signed both Sahm and Willie Nelson. One of his greatest albums, Doug Sahm and Band, (1973, Atlantic) was recorded in New York City with Bob Dylan, Dr. John, and accordionist Flaco Jimenez, and a resulting single, "Is Anybody Going To San Antone?" had some radio success. The Sir Douglas Quintet got back together again to record two more albums, Wanted Very Much Alive and Back To The 'Dillo. Among Sahm's most essential blues records are Hell of a Spell (1980, reissued in 1999), a blues album dedicated to Guitar Slim, and his Grammy-nominated studio album for Antone's, The Last Real Texas Blues Band. For his other material, there are several good compilations, including The Best of Doug Sahm (Rhino). SDQ '98 followed. Sahm died November 18, 1999; the posthumous The Return of Wayne Douglas appeared the following summer. Richard Skelly

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