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A gifted organizer, Sahm wasn’t the best businessman. “Doug pulled a lot of stunts in his life, financially,” says Denny Bruce. “I’m not saying Doug screwed Augie, but there were so many times that he would take advantage of him. But just when you would count Doug out, he would come up and it would be like, ‘Let’s go, get on the bus, Augie!’”
Part of Sahm’s survival was linked to an enduring popularity overseas. After signing with a Swedish label, Sahm went platinum with the crowd-pleasing “Meet Me In Stockholm” in 1983. Moves to Canada and back to Texas were peppered with the requisite number of baseball games, long nights and musical adventures. Sahm’s relationship with sons Shawn and Shandon (the latter played drums in the Meat Puppets) was musical as well. Doug Sahm & Sons appeared on 1990’s Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye (a tribute to Roky Erickson) and eventually recorded a 1994 full-length called Day Dreaming At Midnight (credited to the Sir Douglas Quartet).
Sahm remained a baseball fanatic throughout his life, and there were times when he would refuse to come out of his hotel room—even to rehearse—when watching a ballgame on television. He declined to tour one fall so he could stay home and watch the World Series. “He liked so many different teams,” says Shawn Sahm. “To be a baseball scout would have been his dream. He had a Joe DiMaggio baseball and an autographed menu from DiMaggio’s restaurant. He would call me from all these training camps, ‘Yeah Shawn, I’m hanging out with the Cubs!’”
Bruce once made a trip to Yankee Stadium with Sahm. “Doug worked his way down to the bullpen and was leaning over and talking to (pitcher) Goose Gossage,” he recalls. “He came back and said, ‘I knew that Goose got high!’ They were talking about pot.”
Performing with ensembles like the West Side Horns and the Texas Mavericks, Sahm was never far from his San Antonio roots. But it wasn’t until 1989 that his love affair with Tex-Mex and Conjunto music came to full flower. Along with Meyers, Sahm reunited with Fender and Jimenez to form the Texas Tornados. Several Tornados albums and tours followed, highlighted by a Grammy award in 1991. “Doug was a real versatile guy and soulful, of course,” says Jimenez. “He was a groover—a super groover—and he played a pretty good bajo sexto, too. There’s not too many Anglos doing that.”
Forever returning to those intricate blues shuffles and triplets he practiced in San Antonio, Sahm made a 1998 album called S.D.Q. ‘98, which included two collaborations with Texas rockers the Gourds. Gourds frontman Kevin Russell noticed a hint of melancholy in Sahm’s manner. “He had a taste of fame back in the day, and I think he was always trying to recapture that,” says Russell. “There was always a little bit of sadness about his best days being behind him. He wouldn’t say that, but I got the feeling that was how he felt.”