Doug Sahm was the greatest Texas musician you’ve never heard of, although you most likely heard his music before

Beginning of tea parties

He sat on Hank Williams’ knee as a child prodigy skilled on steel guitar and fiddle.

He watched T-Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown, and other blues guitar giants up close and personal at the chitlin’ circuit nightclub that was across a cottonfield from his family’s home in San Antonio. He had hit records on the radio as a teenager, then achieved international fame as leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet, a rock band that formed in 1964 and dressed like, as well as sounded like they were part of the British Invasion led by the Beatles.

Busted for cannabis possession, he went into exile in northern California just in time for the Summer of Love in 1967. The Sir Douglas Quintet gained fame as one of the charter psychedelic bands on the San Francisco scene.  He returned to Texas, and landed in Austin in 1972,  and along with Willie Nelson headed up the explosion of country, rock, and roots sounds emerging from that town, effectively creating the sound known today as Americana.

He was a star in Scandinavia where his 80s hit “Meet Me In Stockholm” knocked Abba and The Police off the top of the charts. He was a star in Canada where his Formerly Brothers project with Amos Garrett and Gene Taylor won Juno Awards.

During the 1990s, he rounded up his friends the singer Freddy Fender, the accordionist Flaco Jimenez, and longtime Quintet keyboardist Augie Meyers and formed The Texas Tornados. The Tex-Mex supergroup went on to win multiple Grammy Awards while carrying the distinctive South Texas sound around the world.

Above all, Doug Sahm was an artist who had so much music inside himself that he had to play all the varied sounds he was schooled in in order to satisfy his soul.

Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove tells that story. Directed by journalist and author Joe Nick Patoski and co-written by Jason Wehling and Patoski, the film premiered at the South By Southwest Film Festival in 2015 and immediately earned accolades as the great unsung rock and roll documentary, screening at festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Mill Valley, Salem, Massachusetts, Missoula, Santa Fe, Fort Worth, Chicago, Sayulita, Mexico, and Barcelona, Spain, and going wide on Amazon Prime.

In 2020, the film vanished, no longer on Amazon Prime, no longer shown at festivals. The expiration of licensing for rights to use music and visual clips in the film expired. The expense of paying for additional licensing was considered prohibitive.

But the emails, texts, letters, and calls haven’t stopped. Doug-Heads and new converts who have seen Sir Doug want to see it again, and again. Arts + Labor, the production company responsible for Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove, has heard from enough good people out there.

It’s time to Free Doug, and make the film available to the public again.

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