The Austin Chronicle

One Two Three Faw!

A brief history of Texas garage rock

By George Gimarc, December 27, 2002, Music

In the Beginning: the Sixties

After Gordon McLendon created Top 40 on Dallas' KLIF, the airwaves opened to local music across the state. KLIF's Top 40 playlists in the Nuggets-defined years of 1965-68 offer their own version of Texas garage rock history.

In the wake of the Beatles and tougher counterparts like the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, garage bands flourished and local singers like Bruce Channel ("Hey Baby"), Floyd Dakil ("Dance Franny Dance"), and Jill & Ray, aka Paul & Paula, ("Hey Paula," No. 1) waned.

Domingo Samudio left Dallas' R&B scene for Memphis in 1964. There, he put together Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, signed to MGM Records, and hit No. 2 with "Wooly Bully" the next year, a generous reworking of "Hully Gully" by Dallas R&B act Big Bo & the Arrows. San Antonio's Sir Douglas Quintet hit in February 1966 with "She's About a Mover" (No. 14), later eclipsed by "The Rains Came" (No. 6). Yes, 1966 was pretty cool.

Groups got grittier, moved into classic garage mode, and anticipated psychedelia. Across the state, groups sprang up like Day-Glo kudzu. In Austin, Roky Erickson left the Spades and joined the 13th Floor Elevators, bringing a little Spades ditty called "You're Gonna Miss Me." This tune stormed into the consciousness of teenagers with its dangerous psychedelic tendrils, one of the first genuine records of the genre. Down in Corpus Christi, the Zakary Thaks were playing "I Need You" in the summer of 1966, and labelmates the Bad Seeds were in the battle of the bands with "Taste of the Same," both heard on the radio.

Houston's Moving Sidewalks hit right out of the box with "99th Floor" on H-town's KILT, then spread to Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. The Clique was another Houston group that got onto the radio, via a 13th Floor Elevators song called "Splash 1." It's ironic that 20 years later the Clique was rediscovered when R.E.M. had a hit with their tune "Superman." Fever Tree sang about "San Francisco Girls," but they were just another Houston group about to make it as the Sixties closed. San Antonio lost the Sir Douglas Quintet to San Francisco, where "Mendocino" was their last KLIF hit in January 1969.

So many bands. Some known, some remembered only by collectors. All charted some of the greatest indie music the era knew on the original Top 40 station.

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