Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999), was a musician from Texas. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he was a child prodigy in country music, but became a significant figure in blues, rock and other genres. Today Sahm is considered one of the most important figures in what is identified as Tex-Mex. He was the founder and leader of the 1960s rock and roll band The Sir Douglas Quintet, and later with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender and Flaco Jimenez - The Texas Tornados.
Sahm was proficient on dozens of musical instruments and was a lifelong baseball fan.
Sahm began his musical career singing and playing steel guitar, mandolin and violin as "Little" Doug Sahm, making his radio debut at the age five and releasing his first record "A Real American Joe" at age eleven. In December of 1952 he played on stage with Hank Williams.
He is said to have been offered a permanent spot on the Grand Ole Opry, but his mother wanted him to finish junior high.
One of Sahm's earliest recordings was rejected by Mercury Records in 1953. Also in the mid-1950s, he started sneaking into San Antonio R&B clubs such as the Tiffany Lounge and the Ebony Lounge, and he was soon performing at the same venues.
Sahm formed his first band, the Knights, in 1957. Later in the decade, Sahm joined up with Spot Barnett's band playing mostly black San Antonio blues clubs. In 1960, Sahm travelled across the country promoting a record.
He met Freddy Fender around 1958 and Roy Head of Roy Head and The Traits from San Marcos, TX in 1959 when they shared the stage at a sock hop in San Antonio's Municipal Auditorium.
In 1965, prompted by record producer Huey Meaux, he formed the Sir Douglas Quintet with childhood friend Augie Meyers. The group's name was chosen in an effort to make the band seem British to benefit from the British invasion. This image had its problems, particularly Sahm's Texas accent and that two fifths of the band were of Mexican origin. Some early publicity photos of the band showed them only in silhouette to hide this fact.
The band had a top 20 US hit with the 12-bar blues "She's About a Mover" and a lesser hit with "And the Rains Came," the former also reaching the Top Twenty in the UK.
The band broke up after a bust for marijuana possession in Corpus Christi, Texas. Doug moved to San Francisco, forming the Honkey Blues Band before reforming the Sir Douglas Quintet with a new lineup. Eventually Augie Meyers rejoined the quintet and they released the successful single and album "Mendocino". The record contained the song "At the Crossroad" with the legendary Sahm line "You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul".
"Look" he said, "for me right now there are three groups: Butterfield, The Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet." Bob Dylan
In 1973, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records bought Sahm's contract and produced his solo debut Doug Sahm and Band, an album featuring Bob Dylan, Dr. John, David Bromberg and Flaco Jiménez.
"Then in October 1972, Dylan was in the studio with Doug Sahm..........Dylan having been friendly with Sahm since the mid-sixties and having expressed enthusiasm for the Sir Douglas Quintet on more than one occasion"
Sahm continued recording both as a solo artist and with the Sir Douglas Quintet. During this period, Sahm also had a couple of minor motion picture roles. In 1972, he and the Quintet appeared with Kris Kristofferson in Cisco Pike and in 1979 he was featured in More American Graffiti.
Sahm was also a sought-after session musician, appearing on releases of other artists including, The Grateful Dead. He sang backing vocals on Willie Nelson's 1973 gospel album, The Troublemaker.
In 1983, Sahm and Meyers signed with the Swedish Sonet label, and made several extensive European tours that revitalized their careers. The single "Meet Me In Stockholm" from their Midnight Sun LP went platinum and was one of the biggest selling records ever in Scandinavia. After an accident in 1985 Doug moved to Canada and then returned to Texas in 1988.
In 1990 Sahm formed Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornados with Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez. The group recorded four albums and received a Grammy.
Sahm also appears on the Uncle Tupelo album Anodyne on the song "Give Back the Key to my Heart". Anodyne was released in 1993.
Sahm recorded a Grammy-winning solo album, The Last Real Texas Blues Band and recorded with yet another new formation of the Sir Douglas Quintet for SDQ '98.
Sahm died of a heart attack in his sleep in a motel room in Taos, New Mexico on November 18, 1999.
A posthumous album, The Return of Wayne Douglas, was released in 2000. Sahm's son, Shawn Sahm, continues in his father's footsteps as the leader of his band, Shawn Sahm & The Tex Mex Experience. Father and son appeared together on the cover of the Rolling Stone in 1968.