The nominal frontman of the Austin, Texas-based swamp-rock unit Omar & the Howlers
, singer/guitarist Omar Dykes
was born in McComb, Mississippi in 1950 (not coincidentally also the birthplace of Bo Diddley
, whose signature beat informed much of Dykes'
music as well). Weaned on his mother's eclectic collection of country, rock & roll and soul records, he began venturing into area juke joints during his early teen years, and upon learning the guitar returned to these same clubs to launch his performing career. After graduating high school, Dykes
wandered about Mississippi for a few years before finally relocating to Austin in 1976; there he was befriended by Stevie Ray Vaughan
, and a short time later set about forming the Howlers
, who made their debut in 1980 with Big Leg Beat
. After 1984's I Told You So
, the group signed to Columbia for 1987's Hard Times in the Land of Plenty
; although their major-label tenure was short-lived, Omar & the Howlers
remained an Austin fixture throughout the years to come, also attracting a large European cult audience.