"As front man for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kim Wilson has proven to be a consummate performer and devoted blues lover. But it's in his solo work that he truly shines. A musician's musician, many consider Wilson to be one of the premier blues harmonica players in America. His style is grounded in the past -- as evidenced by the many classic blues and R&B tunes he covers -- but it's also uniquely his own. And his vocal style rivals -- or outshines -- any blues singer out there today: his tone is buttery and rich, slightly scarred, and never in a hurry. Raw and yet refined, this contemporary blues will make you be glad that you've got the blues." NPR Weekend Edition - Saturday, June 21, 2003
For nearly three decades, Kim Wilson has been the voice and soul of the Texas band The Fabulous Thunderbirds. A California native, Wilson grew up in a musical family. His parents both sang popular standards on the radio, and he studied the trombone and guitar as a youngster before discovering the blues while a senior in high school. In 1970, he decided to drop out of college to play the blues full time, learning the ropes from such San Francisco Bay Area blues musicians as Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Rhodes. In the mid-1970s he moved to Austin, where he met Jimmie Vaughan, with whom he co-founded The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1974. Although Wilson has often been compared to legendary harmonica player Little Walter, he calls the analogy "sacrilegious." He says his biggest influence was Muddy Waters, whom he befriended after moving to Austin. Although he acknowledges the influence of many great blues harmonica musicians, he calls his own playing a "very modern" take on a traditional music form that is thoroughly his own. "I think that you have so many influences and you steal so much stuff that finally it just gets mixed up into you," Wilson says. Imitating other great harmonica players is impossible, he says, because "the notes you're playing only happen once." Kim has appeared/recorded many greats including...Muddy Waters, Eddie Taylor, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Buddy Guy, Keith Richards, Gatemouth Brown and hundreds of others.