The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Like everyone, I had heard the T-Birds big hits, "Wrap it Up" and "Tuff Enuff", which have afforded them "classic rock" status, but otherwise I didn't know much about them. They came to play at some festival in Bricktown in OKC about 1996 and I went to see them. There were lots of bands playing all day on several stages. The T-Birds were the big-name band for the event. It was outdoors and all free. I couldn't get anyone to go with me so I drove up there myself just to see them. I thought they would be good, but they were awesome. A seasoned, professional band that rocked nonstop for a couple of hours. The guitar player had arms as big around as my legs. The bass player was huge also and chewed gum the whole time. The whole band looked pretty tough ("tuff enuff", I guess). There were five of them - Kim Wilson singing and playing harmonica, Kid Ramos on guitar, Gene Taylor on keyboards (and cigars), Willie J. Campbell on bass, and James Bott on drums. A couple of years later I saw them in Tulsa at Cain's Ballroom. Another awesome show with the same lineup. I've since got most of their records - there's a bunch. They all sound different since they're produced by different people and the band has gone through some lineup changes. They started out as the house band for Antone's in Austin, so they got to play with lots of the top blues and rock and roll artists in the world. Kim Wilson is known as one of the best harmonica players in the world. He has put out a few records of his own. For the first decade, the guitar player was Jimmie Vaughn, Stevie Ray Vaughn's brother. Vaughn has also put out some records (Strange Pleaure is cool). The T-Birds' records never seem to capture their sound and don't usuallly sell well. My favorite record of theirs is Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk, which has two guitar players who aren't on any other T-bird records - Duke Robillaird and Kid Bangham. Their last record, High Water, came out on a side label of Windham Hill, a new age label. The band doesn't even play on it. It is performed entirely by Kim Wilson with Danny Kortchmar and Steve Jordan (a couple of well-known studio aces). What's up with that? All of their records are cool, though.

Fabulous Thunderbirds Links:

Official Site      Windham Hill      Ultimate Band List      A brief bio

Transcript of Blues Chat with Kim Wilson 11/16/97

Transcript of Blues Chat with Kim Wilson 10/17/96

CD Discography:

The Fabulous Thunderbirds - 1979, Chrysalis, produced by Denny Bruce
What's the Word? - 1980, Chrysalis
(2 records above are now on one CD reissued by Beat Goes On in 1996)
Butt Rockin' - 1981, Chrysalis
T-Bird Rhythm - 1982, Chrysalis, produced by Nick Lowe
(2 records above are now on one CD reissued by Beat Goes On in 1996)
Tuff Enuff - 1986, CBS, produced by Dave Edmunds
Hot Number - 1987, CBS, produced by Dave Edmunds
Powerful Stuff - 1989, CBS, produced by Terry Manning
Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk - 1991, Epic, produced by Steve Jordan
Roll of the Dice - 1995, Private Music, produced by Danny Kortchmar
Different Tacos - 1996, unreleased stuff from past years
High Water - 1997, High Street, produced by Steve Jordan/Danny Kortchmar

Hot Stuff - the Greatest Hits - 1992, from the CBS years
Wrap it Up - 1995, Sony, budget priced greatest hits from CBS years
The Essential - 1991, Capitol, 20 songs from the 1st 4 records

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