Singer Kim Wilson lives and breathes rock and blues. As the lone original member of the Fabulous Thunderbrids, Wilson sings lead and plays the harmonica for the famous group. He has been with the band for 46 years.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds perform at The Cave Saturday, Aug. 17.
Born in Detroit, Wilson moved to California in the early 1960s. In high school, he played football. Off the field, Wilson went to rock shows in the greater Los Angeles area.
Wilson turned his passion for music into a lifetime on stage. “I started playing records when I was really young,” Wilson says. “Then here I am, on stage with all these guys I used to listen to.”
At 18 years old, he headed to Austin, Texas, to join the original Fabulous Thunderbirds. Wilson says he moved to Austin to play with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s brother, Jimmie Vaughan, who played guitar with the
group for almost 20 years.
“I spent 20 years in Austin,” Wilson says. “That’s where the band got started. It (Austin) was really up and coming back in ’75.”
It was during the time when Antone’s Nightclub was at the top, which is, “the most famous blues’ club on earth,” Wilson says.
Clifford Antone, founder of the Austin blues club, was a mentor to Wilson and many other legendary artists. “We became great friends, and we shared a love of that kind of music,” Wilson says.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds remained on the Billboard Hot 100 charts throughout the ’80s and early ’90s. The group’s album, “Tuff Enuff,” went gold to platinum in the United States and worldwide. The Fabulous Thunderbirds opened shows for legends such as The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.
“Muddy Waters had a big impact on me,” Wilson says. “All of the great harmonica players were in the Muddy Waters band.”
Forty-six years later, the Fabulous Thunderbirds are still on stage. Prior to their appearance at The Cave in Big Bear, the group makes a quick stop in Europe. “I’m looking forward to this week (the first week in August) and the fall,” Wilson says. The Fabulous Thunderbirds are also scheduled to play at the Stiftelsen Notodden Blues Festival in Notodden, Norway. “I’ve been going there for a long time now, since the ’80s,” Wilson says.
The group will continue its tour in California and United States until the end of this year. Then the band looks forward to performing at the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise in early 2020.
The few moments in time Wilson isn’t on tour with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, he resides in San Juan Capistrano.
“I’ve played for 51 years at every kind of venue you can imagine,” Wilson says. “The people make the venue, and I’ve always enjoyed the venue.”
Doors open at The Cave
Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m. The opening act is Bulldawg Blues Band and Danny McGraw. The Cave is at 40789 Village Drive, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-878-0204 or visit