The Fabulous Thunderbirds are a rock/blues hybrid band founded in 1974 by harmonica virtuoso
Kim Wilson and guitar ace Jimmie Vaughan (older brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan).
Beginning primarily as a blues band, the early components of the T-Birds' canon, including their
1979 self-titled debut and the later Girls Go Wild!, inspired a cult following as they
relentlessly toured America, earning themselves the status of American roadhouse legend.
(These early works were recently re-released in CD form for the first time.) The 'Birds'
were influenced primarily by '50's Chicago blues artists including Muddy Waters, James Cotton,
and Little Walter, but represented a new entity as one of the first entirely white bands to mix
original Chicago blues and later derivative rock styles. Via this reputation and outlook, the
T-Birds' established the mold for the '70's blues/rock band. It is also worth noting that, in a
music highly defined by region, the T-Birds pulled from a variety of areas. Wilson met Vaughan
while travelling in Texas from Detroit by way of California. Most of the other members through the
years have come from the Southern California area.
Stylistically, the earlier works reflected a much more stripped down approach, highlighting
Wilson's unrefined, yet powerful vocals and Vaughan's minimalist guitar style. Commercial success
eluded the band until '86's Tuff Enuff rose to #10 on the Billboard rock charts. From the
album of the same name, the band's fifth album reflected a change in the direction of the band, as
it now attempted to play to a larger audience with such chart-minded endeavors as Wrap it Up
and Rock This Place that most rock scholars would know the band for.
After Vaughan left the band in '89 to embark on a successful solo career, the band served as a
revolving door for great guitarists, among them, Duke Robillard, Kid Ramos, and, most recently,
Troy Gonyea. Their more recent albums highlight Wilson's song writing and represent a more modern, rock-oriented
approach, while their live shows are a mix of blues standards and originals.