Kim Wilson first came to national prominence in the late ’70s when he and his band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, came roaring out of Austin, Texas to inspire a whole generation of roots oriented musicians. His authoritative singing and peerless instrumental virtuosity not only enthrall the crowds that flock to his performances, but also have set a standard, which continues to inspire and challenge musicians around the world.
Born in Detroit in 1951, he grew up in California and fell under the sway of the blues in the late ’60s, honing his chops under the tutelage of people like George Smith, Luther Tucker and Peewee Crayton. After a brief time leading a band of his own around the Minneapolis area, he moved to Austin, Texas in 1974 and formed The Fabulous Thunderbirds. While ensconced as the house band at Clifford Antone’s famous Austin blues club, they played with virtually all the stars in the blues firmament – Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Big Walter Horton, Buddy Guy and many others, and the word soon spread that there was a band down in Austin that was laying down some of the toughest blues ever heard. Muddy Waters called Kim, “The greatest harmonica player to come along since Little Walter.” As the Thunderbirds’ reputation spread, they began to record and tour around the country to ever increasing crowds. They continue to this day despite a number of personnel changes over the years. The one constant has been the dynamic presence of Kim Wilson out front.
Early on, Kim began establishing a dual track for his career: one that would allow him to showcase his skills in a more purely traditional blues setting and give him an opportunity to stretch out instrumentally. Aside from his own projects, he is in much demand as a contributor to the music of others and he has lent his sound to the recordings of artists like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Kid Rock, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana and many others. His own songs have been part of the soundtracks for major motion pictures as well as several national commercials and he has garnered Grammy nominations for both his worldwide R&B hit, “Tuff Enuff,” and his instrumental tour de force, “Down at Antone’s.”
Kim Wilson played a major part in the all-star blues concert filmed at Radio City Music Hall that was featured in a multi-part series on the blues produced by Martin Scorsese, which aired in 2003 on PBS. Most recently, Kim was picked to form the band for the Grammy nominated “Cadillac Records” soundtrack. In addition to his regular touring schedule with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kim also tours with the “Kim Wilson’s Blues All-Stars” in support of his highly acclaimed solo CD’s, including the Grammy nominated “Smokin’ Joint” (2001) and “Lookin’ For Trouble” (2003).
A true road warrior, Kim thrives on a grueling touring schedule bringing his music to fans worldwide, from the most prestigious music festivals around the globe to the kinds of funky clubs in which his talents were originally forged. He enjoys them all.