Gary James' Interview With Augie Meyers of
The Sir Douglas Quintet
At the height of the British Invasion emerged an American group with an English sounding name. That group was the Sir Douglas Quintet from San Antonio, Texas and their hit song was "She's About A Mover". Key to the success of that song was the rhythm guitar and the strange, almost hypnotic sound of the organ.
Playing organ for the Sir Douglas Quintet was Augie Meyers.
Q - Mr. Meyers, as we speak today, is there a Sir Douglas Quintet or do you have your own band?
A - Well, I have my own band and then I just got back from Sweden and Norway. Do you remember ABBA and Rockpile?
Q - Sure, I remember those groups.
A - A bunch of those guys got together. They got a band called The Rock Arounds and they backed me up on a club date tour of Sweden and Norway. Then I have my own band I travel with. Well, not my own band, I put 'em together when I need 'em. Then there's a band called Los Tex Maniacs and we're going to Switzerland. We're doing five days in Zurich and Gestaad. We're gonna do festivals. We'll have between 3000 - 5000 people.
Q - What do you call your own band?
A - Augie Meyers.
Q - Going back to the 1960s, who came up with Sir Douglas Quintet? Was that Doug Sahm?
A - I had a group back then called Hoagie Meyers And The Visions Of Light. Doug had a band. I opened the show for The Dave Clark Five and then Doug Sahm came on and the The Dave Clark Five came on. I had the only Vox organ in America at the time. Theirs broke and they said "can we use your organ?" I told them they could use mine. They said "we have an English organ." I said "I have one." And so after the show, Huey Meaux was there. That was who our producer was. He did B.J. Thomas, Barbara Lynn, Freddie Fender with "Before The Next Tear Drop Falls". He said "Doug, you have long hair. You all have long hair. You all know each other?" We said "We've been friends since we were twelve years old." He said "Well, put a band together, an English sounding thing." This was in 1964. So Doug came up with Sir Douglas and I came up with Quintet.
Q - Your organ sound is what really makes "She's About A Mover". Where'd you learn to play like that?
A - (laughs) I don't know. I just did what I was doing. I just liked the sound of that organ. If you look back at "She's About A Mover", it was just a Polka beat with a Rock and Roll sound. Just to guard the back beat was the organ.
Q - The Sir Douglas Quintet sound has been described as a combination of Cajun and Tex-Mex. Cajun I associate with New Orleans. Where did Tex-Mex come from?
A - I think from me and Doug.
Q - You guys coined that phrase then?
A - Well, Doug actually. All of our musicians in the band were Spanish. Back in Texas we call 'em Mexicans. They call each other Mexicans. All our band was Spanish. So, we just called it Tex-Mex.
Q - Who wrote "She's About A Mover"?
A - Doug Sahm.
Q - It almost sounds like he's struggling to hit those high notes in the song.
A - But, he isn't. (laughs)
Q - That was deliberate then on his part?
A - Well, that was his voice. That was his style of singing. "Mendocino" or "Adios Mexico"...it's like he's straining but he ain't really straining. He's hitting them notes, but it sounds like he's having a hard time getting to 'em.
Q - Was there a follow-up to "She's About A Mover"?
A - Yeah. It was called "The Cracker".
Q - How far up the charts did that go?
A - That didn't really go good. The next song after that was "Rain, Rain". That went to the Top 20.
Q - Who did you guys tour with?
A - We played with Little Richard, James Brown. I've got posters. We played with The Rolling Stones, The Righteous Brothers, The Kinks, The Beach Boys and us. Five bands on one show. Ticket price was $2.50 per person.
Q - And well worth it I might add.
A - That was in 1965.
Q - Where was that show?
A - In Florida. We worked with The Beach Boys a lot back in those days, and Sam The Sham. We had lunch together.
Q - Was that the only time you worked with The Stones?
A - No. We did a couple of shows with 'em.
Q - How many copies of "She's About A Mover" sell?
A - Well, we started out, no major label would take it. They thought we were trying to be just another English band. They thought we were from England. None of the American labels wanted it, so we put it on our own label, which was Tribe Records. Later on, London Records bought it.
Q - Wait a minute. You had your own record label? That was a smart move on your part.
A - It was the only move we could make at the time.
Q - You paid for the production and pressing of the record?
A - Yes.
Q - You probably made more money off the sale of each record. Most groups would get a penny per record for a 45.
A - About a nickle a record back in those days.
Q - You made more than most is what you're telling me?
A - Well, Huey Meaux took most of it, and the promoters and everything.
Q - So you got ripped off too?
A - Well, everybody did back in those days. (laughs) But, we don't call it ripped off. It took us from one place to another place. We have to look at it that way.
Q - In the mid-1960s, you guys relocated the band from San Antonio to San Francisco. That was a happening place at the time. Does that mean you would have crossed paths with Jimi Hendirx, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison?
A - Oh, we knew all those people. Jimi Hendrix was Little Richard's guitar player back in the '60s. A lot of people think Jimi Hendrix was a Heavy Metal guitar player. Man, he played Blues like nobody. He was a great Blues player.
Q - These people would come out to see you play and you'd go out to see them.
A - Right. I listened to Country music back then, which was Hank Williams and Lefty Frizell. I got to meet Jimmy Reed before he passed away and spent a whole week with him playing a club in Houston called Liberty Hall. And man, that was probably the greatest thrill of my life, being with him.
Q - What does that song "She's About A Mover" mean?
A - We were playing in this club called The Blue Note and this couple used to dance and Doug said "She's a body mover!" Back in those days you couldn't say "body mover" on a record. He changed it to "She's About A Mover".