Keith Ferguson (musician)

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Keith Ferguson
Ferguson on bass
Background information
Born(1946-07-23)July 23, 1946
OriginHouston, Texas, U.S.
DiedApril 29, 1997(1997-04-29) (aged 50)
GenresBlues, blues-rock rock and roll, R&B
Instrument(s)Vocals, bass, guitar
Years active1965–1997
LabelsEpic, CBS, Chrysalis

Keith Ferguson (July 23, 1946 – April 29, 1997) was an American bass guitarist, best remembered as a member of the blues rock band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, based in Austin, Texas.[1] Ferguson received several awards for his musicianship.[2]


Ferguson was born July 23, 1946, and raised in the 'Sexto' – the Sixth Ward of Houston Texas, where he graduated from San Jacinto High School in 1964.

In 1969, he joined "Sunnyland Special", a blues band with Angela Strehli and Lewis Cowdrey. They recorded a 45-rpm single. In 1972 he joined "Black Kangaroo" with guitarist Peter Kaukonen, and toured with them. In 1974 he played in the "Nightcrawlers" together with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Keith also played with Rocky Hill at that time.

In 1976, Ferguson joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds, along with vocalists Lou Ann Barton and Kim Wilson and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. (Barton left soon after the group began.) The band had an initial large local following, but was unable to maintain a sustained following with commercially positive results. More than five years of being dropped by small and large record labels, with Chrysalis Records being the last in their initial period to drop the band, there was a hiatus of several years, during which time a re-shuffling of band members began to take place, and Ferguson was one of the first to leave.

Ferguson went on to become a member of the Tailgators along with Don Leady and Gary "Mudcat" Smith.[3]

After leaving the Tailgators, Ferguson freelanced with a number of Austin blues bands on the 6 Street Blues Circuit and played with the Excellos and the Solid Senders.


He died of liver failure at the age of 50, on April 29, 1997, due in part to a nearly thirty-year addiction to heroin.[4][5]

In 2014, a biography was written by author Detlef Schmidt: Keith Ferguson: Texas Blues Bass.[6]


With the Fabulous Thunderbirds[edit]

With the Tailgators[edit]

With other artists[edit]


  • 1997: Austin Music Hall of Fame Inductee
  • 1985: Austin Music Awards, Best Bass Guitar


  1. ^ "Keith Ferguson, Legendary Austin Music Bassist". Travel Austin Texas. 2011. Archived from the original on June 14, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  2. ^ Texas Monthly – 10, 1985, p. 203, "Although the Fabulous T-Birds' original bassist Keith Ferguson left the fold last year, the tattooed, chinoed musician has been anything but inactive in the interim. Ferguson— who has always favored a fuzzy, pervasive bottom- blanketing rather .."
  3. ^ "rock 'n' roll 'till the cows come home – direct from Austin, Texas, with Don Leady – Home". Archived from the original on 2018-08-16. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  4. ^ "Keith Ferguson: An Inventory of His Papers, 1951-2008, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library".
  5. ^ "FERGUSON, KEITH - The Handbook of Texas Online- Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)". July 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Schmidt, Detlef (May 11, 2019). Keith Ferguson: Texas Blues Bass. Centerstream. ISBN 9781574243062. Retrieved May 11, 2019 – via Google Books.

Archival Materials[edit]