‘Tuff Enuff’: The Fabulous Thunderbirds – 5 Decades & Still Going Strong

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Tony Maples Photography


A blues-rock band that formed in Texas in the ’70s, The Fabulous Thunderbirds remain true to their genre and true to their fans. They formally came together in 1974, and following years of performing gigs in Austin, they earned a recording contract. The first of their albums was released in 1979, followed quickly by a second in 1980.

Although the band members have changed over the years, including Jimmie Vaughan (older brother to Stevie Ray Vaughan, legendary Texas blues guitarist and singer) Keith Ferguson, and Mike Buck (all original members,) their offering hasn’t. They remain consistent in their sound, despite years of commercial struggle. And their fans are living proof. Their only top 40 hit to this day remains the song “Tuff Enuff,” which was featured in the movie “Gung Ho,” as well as “Tough Guys.” Their sound has been the supporting backdrop for such ’80s films as “Hot Pursuit,” “Light of Day,” and “Cocktail.” The Fabulous Thunderbirds were also trailblazers online, having been the first band to be broadcast over the internet using high-def cameras on February 16, 2000.

Video: YouTube/The FabulousTBirdsVEVO

With over 3 million views, the official music video for “Tuff Enuff,” found on the FabulousTBirdsVevo YouTube channel, remains a top-listening hit for the fans who readily shared their comments on the song post. Those who remain a part of their true following continue to attend shows when the band takes to the road, which is something they’re in the midst of as we speak. These days, band members include Kim Wilson on lead vocals and harmonica, Johnny Moeller on guitar, Steve Gomes on bass, Kevin Anker on keyboards, and Wes Watkins on drums, and their tour stops cover all the major bases throughout North America.

Virginia, North and South Carolina, Nevada, and on up into Canada, The Fabulous Thunderbirds are still belting out their blues-rock standards and keeping fans out of their seats, dancing to the music. No word on pending Texas show dates, but we’re sure they’re in the works, considering their roots, and you can keep tabs on their tour stops at their official website. Their discography reads like a time capsule of the epic musical influence of the ’70s and ’80s, with a staying power that’s carried them through three more decades. If you haven’t attended a live show, you’re missing out on one of the more essential experiences in Texas music there is.