After performing for several years in the Austin, Texas blues scene, the Fabulous Thunderbirds signed a recording contract with Takoma/Chrysalis Records. Their first two albums were released in 1979 and 1980, with Kim Wilson’s lead vocals and harmonica, Jimmie Vaughan as lead guitarist, and Keith Ferguson on bass guitar. Mike Buck was on drums for the first album but left the band and was replaced by Fran Christina on the second. Both albums initially sold through the small number printed (about 3000 units) and are now regarded as significant blues recordings. 

The Thunderbirds’ blues style mixed Texas blues with the harmonica-laced swamp blues sounds of Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester—both of whom the Thunderbirds covered. The band’s third album, Butt-Rockin’, released in 1981, took the band closer to old rhythm and blues and added additional musicians playing piano and brass.

Although the Fabulous Thunderbirds had become favorites of fellow musicians—opening shows for the likes of the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton—and had been critically well-received, the band’s records did not sell well. Chrysalis dropped the band following the release of T-Bird Rhythm, leaving the band without a contract for four years. While still in limbo, the Fabulous Thunderbirds continued to play concerts across the U.S. During this time, bassist Keith Ferguson left the band and was replaced by Preston Hubbard, a former member of Roomful of Blues. Tuff Enuff: The Real Story of the Fabulous Thunderbirds is a ride down the rocky road of the music biz with an incredible soundtrack. More to come.

TUFF ENUFF: THE STORY OF THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS is a fiscally sponsored project of the Austin Film Society. You can make a donation to this project HERE. You will receive a letter acknowledging your gift to the Austin Film Society on behalf of the project. Since AFS is a non-profit organization, your donation may be deducted from your taxes as a charitable contribution under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.


Cindy Marabito is a longtime writer and author of Pit Bull Nation, Jackson and Jules, the Truth Finder. Just published Small Texas, a collection of short stories that makes for some crazy-ass beach reading! She directed and produced the movie The Dicks From Texas about the punk rock hardcore Austin, TX band along with a double covers cd featuring great Dicks songs covered by great bands, The Dicks From Texas and Friends.

Cindy is the creator of Cowbells and Ding Dongs, a podcast with its big toe never straying too far past Austin City Limits. Cindy runs Reunion Rescue, a pit bull rescue with 25 years of saving death row dogs and placing in loving forever homes. She penned the American Pit Bull Examiner column for over five years along with several other blogs. She was Detour Magazine’s Video Detour editor for two years and currently writes F–k You I’m From Texas Film Talk blog. Hard at work on a memoir Beautiful Mountain of her growing up years in Beaumont, Texas and Part II The Color Blue, a punk rock love story. Available on Kindle Vella, The Legend of Sky Diamond, a fake lowdown memoir on the DFW downlow and Paranormal Hollywood, book two in the Jules, the Truth Finder series. W.I.P. another short story collection, Frontier. Check out Cindy’s Youtube channel for the incredible music playlists which inspire her writing, one for every book and film including work in progress, Tuff Enuff: The Real Story of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, a deep dive into how Austin went from a sleepy little cosmic cowboy college town to the megalopolis music capital of the world. 

Cindy lives on the banks of the Jimmie Dale Gilmore Colorado River with her husband Scott and surrounded by her beloved Pit Bulls and Other Animals.

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