Kim Wilson has proven one thing: He’s tough enough.
The lead singer of the Fabulous Thunderbirds has been with the band from the start, through the early days in Austin, Texas, to the top of the charts with “Tuff Enuff” in the 1980s, and then weathering a string of departures by band members and some dry years out of the national spotlight.
Wilson, in other words, has been through it all in the music business. His Fabulous Thunderbirds band played in Rochester on the opening Sunday of the 2015 Down by the Riverside concert series.
A quick look at Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds:
— Wilson, who was born in California, moved to Austin, Texas, as a young man and there met Jimmie Vaughan. The two started playing together, formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds and had a regular gig at the famous Antone’s club in Austin. The band’s first albums were released in 1979 and 1980, and while not big sellers, the records did attract the attention of major labels and other artists.
— The Fabulous Thunderbirds soon were opening shows for the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, and after several fallow years, the band recorded “Tuff Enuff,” which was featured in the films “Tough Guys” and “Gung Ho.” The song, boosted by a video that played seemingly around the clock on MTV, went to the Top 10 in mid-1986. Suddenly, the Fabulous Thunderbirds were not only tough, they were hot enough as well.
— The album “Tuff Enuff” had been recorded in London with producer Dave Edmunds, a roots-rocking Brit with an affinity for American blues and rock ‘n’ roll. But the next couple of albums were not as successful.
— In 1990, Jimmie Vaughan left the band to pursue a solo career.
— Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds have continued to tour and record, and the band is a consistent hit at blues festivals.