Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan Died aged thirty-five on 27th August 1990 in
East Troy, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Stevie and members of Eric Clapton's touring entourage boarded a Bell 206B helicopter in East Troy, Wisconsin, to travel to Midway International Airport in Chicago. A return flight was scheduled for later that night, but when the encore finished, Stevie Ray Vaughan was eager to return to Chicago and made the decision to leave immediately. The designated helicopter crashed into a nearby ski hill shortly after takeoff.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and the four others on board - pilot Jeff Brown, agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and tour manager Colin Smythe - were all killed.
According to findings from an inquest conducted by the coroner's office in Elkhorn, Stevie Ray Vaughan suffered from "massive internal and skull injuries", in addition to severe trauma and rib fractures. The coroner theorized that all five victims were killed instantly, given the severity of their injuries. The bodies were taken to the morgue at Lakeland Medical Center in Elkhorn, where they were kept for relatives and friends to help identify them.
Stevie Ray Vaughan's funeral services were held on 31st August 1990, at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. His body was set in a wooden casket that quickly became adorned with bouquets of flowers, which was carried in a white hearse. An estimated three thousand mourners were in attendance at the procession. Among attendees at the public ceremony were Jeff Healey, Charlie Sexton, ZZ Top, Colin James, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy. Stevie was entombed under a grave marker that reads: "Thank you... for all the love you passed our way."
Stevie Ray Vaughan was born on 3rd October 1954 in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. A shy and insecure boy, Stevie Ray Vaughan was deeply affected by his childhood experiences. His father struggled with alcohol abuse, and often terrorised his family and friends with his bad temper. In later years, Stevie Ray Vaughan recalled that he had been a victim of his father's violence.
In the early 1960s, Stevie Ray Vaughan's admiration for his brother Jimmie resulted in him trying different instruments such as the drums and saxophone. In 1961, for his seventh birthday, Stevie Ray Vaughan received his first guitar and learning by ear, he diligently committed himself, following along to songs by the Nightcaps, particularly "Wine, Wine, Wine" and "Thunderbird". He listened to blues artists such as Albert King, Otis Rush, and Muddy Waters, and rock guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack, as well as jazz guitarists including Kenny Burrell. In 1963, he acquired his first electric guitar, a Gibson ES-125T, as a hand-me-down from his brother, Jimmie.
Soon after he acquired the electric guitar, Stevie Ray Vaughan joined his first band, the Chantones, in 1965. Their first gig was at a talent contest held in Dallas' Hill Theatre, but after realizing that they could not perform a Jimmy Reed song in its entirety, Stevie Ray Vaughan left the band and joined the Brooklyn Underground, playing professionally at local bars and clubs. He received Jimmie's Fender Broadcaster, which he later traded for an Epiphone Riviera. When Jimmie left home at age sixteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan's apparent obsession with the instrument caused a lack of support from his parents. Miserable at home, he took a job at a local hamburger stand, where he washed dishes and dumped trash for seventy cents an hour. After falling into a barrel of grease, he grew tired of the job and quit to devote his life to a music career.
In May 1969, after leaving the Brooklyn Underground, Stevie Ray Vaughan joined a band called the Southern Distributor. He had learned The Yardbirds' "Jeff's Boogie" and played the song at the audition. Mike Steinbach, the group's drummer, commented: "The kid was fourteen. We auditioned him on 'Jeff's Boogie,' really fast instrumental guitar, and he played it note for note." Although they played pop rock covers, Stevie Ray Vaughan conveyed his interest in the addition of blues songs to the group's repertoire; he was told that he wouldn't earn a living playing blues music and the band parted ways. Later that year, bassist Tommy Shannon walked into a Dallas club and heard Stevie Ray Vaughan playing guitar. Fascinated by the skillful playing, which he described as "incredible even then", Shannon borrowed a bass guitar and the two jammed. Within a few years, they began performing together in a band called Krackerjack.
In February 1970, Stevie Ray Vaughan joined a band called Liberation, which was a nine-piece group with a horn section. Having spent the past month briefly playing bass with Jimmie in Texas Storm, he had originally auditioned as bassist. Impressed by Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar playing, Scott Phares, the group's original guitarist, modestly became the bassist. In mid-1970, they performed at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, where ZZ Top asked them to perform. During Liberation's break, Stevie Ray Vaughan jammed with ZZ Top on the Nightcaps song "Thunderbird". Phares later described the performance: "they tore the house down. It was awesome. It was one of those magical evenings. Stevie fit in like a glove on a hand."
Attending Justin F. Kimball High School during the early 1970s, Stevie Ray Vaughan's late-night gigs contributed to his neglect in his studies, including music theory; he would often sleep during class. His musical career pursuit was disapproved by many of the school's administrators but he was also encouraged by many people, including his art teacher, to strive for a career in art. In his sophomore year, he attended an evening class for experimental art at Southern Methodist University, but left when it conflicted with rehearsal. Stevie Ray Vaughan later spoke of his dislike of the school and stated he had to receive a daily note from the principal about his grooming.
In September 1970, Stevie Ray Vaughan made his first studio recordings with the band Cast of Thousands, which included future actor Stephen Tobolowsky. They recorded two songs, "Red, White and Blue" and "I Heard a Voice Last Night", for a compilation album, A New Hi, that featured various teenage bands from Dallas. In late January 1971, feeling confined by playing pop hits with Liberation, Stevie Ray Vaughan formed his own band, Blackbird. After growing tired of the Dallas music scene, he dropped out of school and moved with the band to Austin, Texas, which had more liberal and tolerant audiences. There, Stevie Ray Vaughan initially took residence at the Rolling Hills Country Club, a venue that would later become the Soap Creek Saloon. Blackbird played at several clubs in Austin and opened shows for bands such as Sugarloaf, Wishbone Ash, and Zephyr, but could not maintain a consistent lineup. In early December 1972, Stevie Ray Vaughan left Blackbird and joined a rock band named Krackerjack; he performed with them for less than three months.
In March 1973, Stevie Ray Vaughan joined Marc Benno's band, the Nightcrawlers, after meeting Benno at a jam session years before. The next month, the Nightcrawlers recorded an album at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood for A&M Records. While the album was rejected by A&M, it included Stevie Ray Vaughan's first songwriting efforts, "Dirty Pool" and "Crawlin'". Soon afterward, he and the Nightcrawlers travelled back to Austin without Benno. In mid-1973, they signed a contract with Bill Ham, manager for ZZ Top, and played various gigs across the South, though many of them were disastrous.
In 1975, Stevie Ray Vaughan joined a six-piece band called Paul Ray and the Cobras which included guitarist Val Swierczewski and saxophonist Joe Sublett. For the next two-and-a-half years, he earned a living performing weekly at a popular venue in town, the Soap Creek Saloon, and ultimately the newly opened Antone's, widely known as Austin's "home of the blues". In late 1976, Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded a single with them, "Other Days" as the A-side and "Texas Clover" as the B-side. Playing guitar on both tracks, the single was released in February 1977. In March, readers of the Austin Sun voted them as Band of the Year. In addition to playing with the Cobras, Stevie Ray Vaughan jammed with many of his influences at Antone's, including Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Albert King.
Stevie Ray Vaughan toured with the Cobras during much of 1977, but near the end of September, after they decided to strive for a mainstream musical direction, he left the band and formed Triple Threat Revue, which included singer Lou Ann Barton, bassist W. C. Clark, and drummer Fredde Pharaoh. In January 1978, they recorded four songs in Austin, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's composition "I'm Cryin'". The thirty-minute audio recording marks the only known studio recording of the band.
In May 1978, Clark left to form his own group and Stevie Ray Vaughan renamed the band Double Trouble, taken from the title of an Otis Rush song. Following the recruitment of bassist Jackie Newhouse, Pharaoh quit in July, and was briefly replaced by Jack Moore, who had moved to Texas from Boston; he performed with the band for about two months. Stevie Ray Vaughan then began looking for a drummer and soon after, he met Chris Layton through Sublett, who was his roommate. Layton, who had recently parted ways with Greezy Wheels, was taught by Stevie Ray Vaughan to play a shuffle rhythm. When Stevie Ray Vaughan offered Layton the position, he agreed. In early July, Stevie Ray Vaughan befriended Lenora Bailey, known as "Lenny", who became his girlfriend, and ultimately his wife. The marriage was to last for six and a half years.
In early October 1978, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble earned a frequent residency performing at one of Austin's most popular nightspots, the Rome Inn. During a performance, Edi Johnson, an accountant at Manor Downs, noticed Stevie Ray Vaughan. She remembered: "I'm not an authority on music- it's whatever turned me on - but this did." She recommended him to Manor Downs owner Frances Carr and general manager Chesley Millikin, who was interested in managing artists, and saw Stevie Ray Vaughan's musical potential. After Barton quit Double Trouble in mid-November 1979, Millikin signed Stevie Ray Vaughan to a management contract. Stevie Ray Vaughan also hired Robert "Cutter" Brandenburg as road manager, whom he had met in 1969. Addressing him as "Stevie Ray", Brandenburg convinced Stevie Ray Vaughan to use his middle name on stage.
In October 1980, bassist Tommy Shannon attended a Double Trouble performance at Rockefeller's in Houston. Shannon, who was playing with Alan Haynes at the time, participated in a jam session with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Layton halfway through their set. Shannon later commented: "I went down there that night, and I'll never forget this: it was like, when I walked in the door and I heard them playing, it was like a revelation. 'That's where I want to be; that's where I belong, right there.' Almost three months later, when Stevie Ray Vaughan offered Shannon the position, he readily accepted.
In December 1979, while Stevie Ray Vaughan was in a dressing room before a performance in Houston, an off-duty police officer arrested him after witnessing his usage of cocaine near an open window. He was formally charged with cocaine possession and subsequently released on one-thousand dollars bail. Double Trouble was the opening act for Muddy Waters, who said about Stevie Ray Vaughan's substance abuse: "Stevie could perhaps be the greatest guitar player that ever lived, but he won't live to get forty years old if he doesn't leave that white powder alone."
Stevie Ray Vaughan was sentenced with two years probation and was prohibited from leaving Texas. Along with a stipulation of entering treatment for drug abuse, he was required to "avoid persons or places of known disreputable or harmful character"; he refused to comply with both of these orders. After a lawyer was hired, his probation officer had the sentence revised to allow him to work outside of the state. The incident later caused him to refuse maid service while staying in hotels during concert tours.
Although popular in Texas at the time, Double Trouble failed to gain national attention. The group's luck progressed when record producer Jerry Wexler recommended them to Claude Nobs, organizer of the Montreux Jazz Festival. He insisted the festival's blues night would be great with Stevie Ray Vaughan, whom he called "a jewel, one of those rarities who comes along once in a lifetime", and Nobs agreed to book Double Trouble.
Stevie Ray Vaughan opened with a medley arrangement of Freddie King's song "Hide Away" and his own fast instrumental composition, "Rude Mood". Double Trouble went on to perform renditions of Larry Davis' "Texas Flood", Hound Dog Taylor's "Give Me Back My Wig", and Albert Collins' "Collins Shuffle", as well as three original compositions: "Pride and Joy", "Love Struck Baby", and "Dirty Pool".
On the following night, Double Trouble was booked in the lounge of the Montreux Casino, with Jackson Browne in attendance. Browne jammed with Double Trouble until the early morning hours and offered them free use of his personal recording studio in downtown Los Angeles. In late November the band accepted his offer and recorded ten songs in two days. While they were in the studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan received a telephone call from David Bowie, who met him after the Montreux performance, and he invited him to participate in a recording session for his next studio album, Let's Dance. In January 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded guitar on six of the album's eight songs, including the title track and "China Girl". The album was released in April 1983 and sold over three times as many copies as David Bowie's previous album.
In mid-March 1983, Gregg Geller, vice president of A&R at Epic Records, signed Double Trouble to the label at the recommendation of record producer John Hammond. Soon afterward, Epic financed a music video for "Love Struck Baby", which was filmed at the Cherry Tavern in New York City.
With the success of Let's Dance, David Bowie requested Stevie Ray Vaughan as the featured instrumentalist for the upcoming Serious Moonlight Tour, realizing that he was an essential aspect of the album's groundbreaking success. In late April, Stevie Ray Vaughan began rehearsals for the tour in Las Colinas, Texas. When contract renegotiations for his performance fee failed, Stevie Ray Vaughan abandoned the tour days before its opening date, and he was replaced by Earl Slick.
On 9th May 1983 the band performed at The Bottom Line in New York City, where they opened for Bryan Adams, with Hammond, Mick Jagger, John McEnroe, Rick Nielsen, Billy Gibbons, and Johnny Winter in attendance. Brandenburg described the performance as "ungodly": "I think Stevie played every lick as loud and as hard and with as much intensity as I've ever heard him." The performance earned Stevie Ray Vaughan a positive review published in the New York Post, asserting that Double Trouble outperformed Adams.
After acquiring the recordings from Browne's studio, Double Trouble began assembling the material for a full-length LP. The album, Texas Flood, opens with the track "Love Struck Baby", which was written for Lenny on their "love-struck day". He composed "Pride and Joy" and "I'm Cryin'" for one of his former girlfriends, Lindi Bethel, and are both musically similar, but their lyrics are two different perspectives of their prior relationship. Along with covers of Howlin' Wolf, The Isley Brothers, and Buddy Guy, the album included Stevie Ray Vaughan's cover of Larry Davis' "Texas Flood", a song which became strongly associated with him.
Texas Flood featured cover art by illustrator Brad Holland, who is known for his artwork for Playboy and The New York Times. Originally envisioned with Stevie Ray Vaughan sitting on a horse depicting a promotable resemblance, Holland painted an image of him leaning against a wall with a guitar, using a photograph as a reference. Released in June 1983, Texas Flood ultimately sold half a million copies. While Rolling Stone editor Kurt Loder asserted that Stevie Ray Vaughan did not possess a distinctive voice, according to AllMusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the release was a "monumental impact". Billboard described it as "a guitar boogie lovers delight". Agent Alex Hodges commented: "No one knew how big that record would be, because guitar players weren't necessarily in vogue, except for some that were so established they were undeniable ... he was one of the few artists that was recouped on every record in a short period of time."
Following a brief tour in Europe, Hodges arranged an engagement for Double Trouble as The Moody Blues' opening act during a two-month tour of North America. Hodges stated that many people disliked the idea of Double Trouble opening for The Moody Blues, but asserted that a common thread which both bands shared was "album-oriented rock". Shannon described the tour as "glorious": "Our record hadn't become that successful yet, but we were playing in front of coliseums full of people. We just went out and played, and it fit like a glove. The sound rang through those big coliseums like a monster. People were going crazy, and they had no idea who we were!" After appearing on the television series Austin City Limits, the band played a sold-out concert at New York City's Beacon Theatre. Variety wrote that their ninety-minute set at the Beacon "left no doubt that this young Texas musician is indeed the 'guitar hero of the present era.'"
In January 1984, Double Trouble began recording their second studio album, 'Couldn't Stand the Weather', at the Power Station. Layton later recalled working with Hammond: "he was kind of like a nice hand on your shoulder, as opposed to someone that jumped in and said, 'let's redo this, let's do that more.' He didn't get involved in that way at all. He was a feedback person." As the sessions began, Stevie Ray Vaughan's cover of Bob Geddins' "Tin Pan Alley" was recorded while audio levels were being checked.
During recording sessions, Stevie Ray Vaughan began experimenting with other combinations of musicians, including Fran Christina and Stan Harrison, who played drums and saxophone respectively on the jazz instrumental, "Stang's Swang". Jimmie Vaughan played rhythm guitar on his cover of Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Do" and the title track, the latter of which Stevie Ray Vaughan carries a worldly message in his lyrics. According to musicologist Andy Aledort, Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar playing throughout the song is marked by steady rhythmic strumming patterns and improvised lead lines, with a distinctive R&B and soul single-note riff, doubled in octaves by guitar and bass.
'Couldn't Stand the Weather' was released in May 1984, and two weeks later it had rapidly outpaced the sales of Texas Flood. It peaked at number 31 and spent 38 weeks on the charts. The album includes Stevie Ray Vaughan's cover of Jimi Hendrix's song, "Voodoo Child".
On 4th October 1984, Stevie Ray Vaughan headlined a performance at Carnegie Hall that included many guest musicians. For the second half of the concert, he added Jimmie as rhythm guitarist, drummer George Rains, keyboardist Dr. John, Roomful of Blues horn section, and featured vocalist Angela Strehli. The ensemble rehearsed for less than two weeks before the performance, and despite the solid dynamics of Double Trouble for the first half of the performance, according to Patoski and Crawford, the big band concept never entirely took form. Before arriving at the engagement, the venue sold out, which made Stevie Ray Vaughan extremely excited and nervous as he did not calm down until halfway through the third song. A benefit for the T.J. Martell Foundation's work in leukemia and cancer research, he was an important draw for the event. As his scheduled time slot drew closer, he indicated that he preferred travelling to the venue by limousine to avoid being swarmed by fans on the street; the band took the stage around 8:00 p.m. The audience of 2,200 people, which included Stevie Ray Vaughan's wife, family and friends, transformed the venue into what Stephen Holden of The New York Times described as "a whistling, stomping roadhouse".
Introduced by Hammond as "one of the greatest guitar players of all time", Stevie Ray Vaughan opened with "Scuttle Buttin'", wearing a custom-made mariachi suit he described as a "Mexican tuxedo". Double Trouble went on to perform renditions of The Isley Brothers' "Testify", The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Voodoo Child ", "Tin Pan Alley", Elmore James' "The Sky Is Crying", and W. C. Clark's "Cold Shot", along with four original compositions including "Love Struck Baby", "Honey Bee", "Couldn't Stand the Weather", and "Rude Mood". During the second half of the performance, Stevie Ray Vaughan performed covers by Larry Davis, Buddy Guy, Guitar Slim, Albert King, Jackie Wilson, and Albert Collins. The set ended with Stevie Ray Vaughan performing solo renditions of "Lenny" and "Rude Mood".
The performance was recorded and later released as an official live LP. The album was released in July 1997 by Epic Records; it was ultimately certified gold.
On the following day, Double Trouble made an appearance at a record store in Greenwich Village, where they signed autographs for fans. In late October 1984, the band toured Australia and New Zealand, which included one of their first appearances on Australian television—on Hey Hey It's Saturday—where they performed "Texas Flood", and an interview on Sounds. In November they played sold-out concerts at the Sydney Opera House. Upon returning to America, Double Trouble went on a brief tour in California. Soon afterward, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lenny went to the island of Saint Croix, on the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea, where they had spent some time vacationing in December. The next month, Double Trouble flew to Japan, where they appeared for five performances, including at Kosei Nenkin Kaikan in Osaka.
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