Who Are Douglas Quintet

Doug Sahm was just five years old when he first sang on the radio. He was a prodigy who played violin, mandolin, and steel guitar. His specialty was country music, a natural choice, given his upbringing in San Antonio, Texas. At the age of 11, he performed on stage in Austin with Hank Williams in what would turn out to be Williams’ last performance. Sahm formed his first band, The Knights, when he was 16.

Doug Sahm
Net Worth: $3 million

It was 1965 when Sahm and his longtime pal, Augie Meyers formed Sir Douglas Quintet. It was the height of the British Invasion, and they wanted to reap whatever benefit they could from having a British sounding name. Unfortunately, the name was somewhat at odds with Sahm’s Texas accent and the presence of two Hispanic musicians in the band’s lineup. Nonetheless, they managed to record a hit single, “She’s About A Mover” before breaking up after getting caught in a drug bust.

British Invasion … from Texas?

They were a Texas band who adopted a British name and wound up on the West Coast, contributing to the San Francisco Sound of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

In retrospect, it was the perfect time and place for a band who thrived on musical experimentation, and who combined elements from such disparate genres as rock, Tex-Mex, and doo-wop to create a distinctive sound of their own.

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And it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that SDQ were an influential band. At their peak, Bob Dylan was quoted (as documented in the book, All Across the Telegraph: A Bob Dylan Handbook) as saying, “For me right now there are three groups: [Paul] Butterfield, The Byrds and the Sir Douglas Quintet.”

Tex-Mex meets the San Francisco Sound

Sahm left Texas for California, having heard about the San Francisco Sound, the movement that was born out of musical experimentation, and precisely the kind of genre-blending he was already doing.

Sahm put together a band he called the Honkey Blues Band, but when his old friend Augie Meyers made the move to San Francisco, they revived SDQ. In short order, they released the album, Mendocino, whose title track became their second hit single.

SDQ were much in demand in the early ’70s. They appeared with Kris Kristofferson in the movie, Cisco Pike in 1972. The band was still actively recording and touring when Sahm recorded his first solo album, with a guest list that included Dylan, Dr. John and Flaco Jimenez, with whom Sahm would reunite in the super group Texas Tornadoes (which also included Meyers and Freddy Fender) in the early ’90s. The band split (amicably) in 1972 when it was clear that Sahm preferred to pursue a solo career.

SDQ’s legacy

The band is best known in musical circles for successfully creating a musical brand made up of elements of rock, Tex-Mex and Cajun. Their music was also influenced by elements of ’50s doo-wop and ’60s soul and electric blues.

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Sahm died of a heart attack in 1999, but his solo albums, and those of his Sir Douglas Quintet, have found a new audience through catalog reissues in recent years. In the years since SDQ split up, they have had several reunions involving various configurations of former band members.

Best known songs:

“She’s About A Mover” (1965)
“The Rains Came” (1966)
“Mendocino” (1968)
“It Didn’t Even Bring Me Down” (1969)
“Dynamite Woman” (1969) (watch a 1994 concert performance)
“At The Crossroads” (1969)
“Nuevo Laredo” (1970) (watch a TV performance)

Sir Douglas Quintet album discography

1966 – The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet
1968 – Sir Douglas Quintet + 2 = Honkey Blues
1969 – Mendocino
1970 – 1+1+1=4
1970 – Together After Five 
1971 – The Return of Doug Saldaña
1972 – Future Tense 
1973 – Rough Edges 

Albums of original material released after the band split up:

1977 – Live Love 
1980 – Motive
1981 – Quintessence
1983 – Border Wave 
1983 – Live Texas Tornado 
1983 – Midnight Sun 
1984 – Rio Medina 
1985 – Luv Ya’ Europa
1994 – Day Dreaming at Midnight
2006 – Live from Austin, Texas

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