“Why, Why, Why” hasn’t Doug Sahm been considered for induction to the Rock ‘N Roll hall of fame?
Back in 1965, a song hit the airwaves called “She’s About a Mover”. The Sir Douglas Quintet was the band that created and performed it. Doug Sahm was the lead singer and driving force of the band, and his soulful voice not only defined the song, it defined the band. The band was further emphasized by the rhythmic sound of the Vox organ played to perfection by Augie Meyers. The original Sir Douglas Quintet members also included Jack Barber on bass, Frank Morin on saxophone, with Johnny Perez, Ernie Durawa and T.J. Ritterbach on drums.
This was during the era of Rock ‘n Roll music commonly referred to today as the British Invasion. The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, and many more, took the USA by storm and dominated the airwaves. Wherever you went, whatever radio station you were listening to, you practically heard nothing other than bands that hailed from the British Isles. Truly, a phenomenon the history of music hasn’t seen since.
Dawn Sahm, Doug Sahm’s daughter, told me a funny story a few years ago. The Sir Douglas Quintet had just performed ‘Mendocino’ on American Bandstand. Dick Clark greeted the front man after the performance and asked, “Where in England are you guys from?” Doug laughingly replied, “England? Hell man, we’re from San Antonio, Texas!” They had tricked the number one authority figure of Rock ‘n Roll music and it was hilarious.
Sure, they had that British invasion sound, but if you looked beneath the surface, they were much more than your typical rock band. They were so obviously influenced by jazz, rock, country, and surprisingly enough, Tex-Mex music. “She’s About a Mover” has a very definite Tex-Mex beat as does “Mendocino.”
The Sir Douglas Quintet would go on to record several albums. In 1968, they released Honky Blues on Smash Records. In 1969, they released the album Mendocino also on Smash Records, and in 1970, they released 1+1+1=4 on Philips Records. All of these records had a very distinct sound from each other and were experimental in many ways. “Yesterday Got in the Way” and “Be Real” could have very easily played on just about any country station and would be laid out beside songs like, “Don’t Bug Me!” and “Tortilla Flats.” Very ballsy production values for the era indeed.
Two of my personal favorite Doug Sahm solo ventures were Doug Sahm and Friends, released on Atlantic Records in January of 1973, and Groover’s Paradise, also released on Atlantic Records the following year.
Doug Sahm and Friends included Bob Dylan, who not only shared vocals on three tunes, but also contributed his song “Wallflower” that had never been released. Joining Mr. Dylan were Dr. John, David “Fathead” Newman, Augie Meyers, David Bromberg, and future Texas Tornado member Flaco Jimenez.
The artwork by Gilbert Shelton of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers fame, was a great idea for the album cover. Surprisingly enough, the album only reached 125 on the 1972 charts. However, the album is considered a classic in most circles. It also contains “(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone,” “It’s Gonna Be Easy,” “Your Friends,” “Poison Love,” “Dealer’s Blues,” “Faded Love,” “Blues Stay Away from Me,” “Papa Ain’t Salty,” “Me and Paul,” “Don’t Turn Around,” and “I Get Off.”
Groover’s Paradise was comprised of Doug Sahm, along with Doug Clifford and Stu Cook of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame, and, of course, Augie Meyers. Doug Clifford also produced this gem. The music ranges from rock, to blues, to Texas, or as they called it back then, progressive country. The idea that went into Sir Doug’s earlier ventures with The Sir Douglas Quintet, were also present on his solo ventures.
The album contains the title cut, “Groover’s Paradise,” as well as “Devil Heart,” “Houston Chicks,” “For the Sake of Rock ’n Roll,” “Beautiful Texas Sunshine,” “Just Groove Me,” “Girls Today (Don’t Like to Sleep Alone),” “La Cachuata (The Peanut),” “Her Dream Man Never Came,” and finally, “Catch Me in the Morning.”
The artwork for the album cover by Austin artist, Kerry Fitzgerald is incredible. There is so much detail in the artwork you can never stop looking at it. It will take you back to the days of beautiful head-comics type artwork from the likes of Robert Crumb and the above mentioned, Gilbert Shelton. It is so intricate I still find things I have never seen before.
Both Doug Sahm and Friends and Groover’s Paradise are two rare examples of albums where every song on the album is great. There is not one song on either album you would call a filler. It was extremely obvious that there was a lot of heart and soul that went into the production of these two records.
Sir Doug and friends went on recording and performing throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. According to an article written by Joseph Levy, “in 1989, Sahm talked with Cameron Randle, of the Arista Texas label, about forming a Tex-Mex version of the Traveling Wilburys. This group became the Texas Tornados and reunited Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers with the addition of Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender.”
The Texas Tornados went on to produce eight albums, including a ‘Best Of’ anthology. The band went on recording and performing until Mr. Sahm’s untimely death due to a heart attack in Taos, New Mexico on November 18, 1999. He has been sorely missed by anyone who is into this genre of music. His son Shawn has actively been carrying the proverbial Sahm-family torch for several years now with The Tex-Mex Experience. Let’s just say, you can tell he got the Doug Sahm gene. You will know what I mean when you listen to him. There will be more on Shawn another time.
If you do not have any of the above named records, you are severely short-changing yourself and need to expand your music horizons. Four must haves in this article would certainly be the Sir Douglas Quintet records 1+1+1=4 and Honky Blues along with Doug Sahm and Friends and Groover’s Paradise.
This being said, I have one question, why the hell isn’t Doug Sahm in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of fame? For that matter, why the hell isn’t he in the country music hall of fame. These two questions withstanding, wouldn’t this qualify him for the Americana Music Hall of Fame? Or do we need to start one?