Farewells: Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954 - 1990)

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Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a unique musician who mixed Texas blues with guitar riffs inspired by Jimi Hendrix. While he was growing up, his parents often held dance parties at their house near Dallas.

Bob Wills's band, the Texas Playboys, were frequent visitors. Sometimes the musicians would hold an impromptu jam session, mixing contemporary hillbilly, swing, and country tunes. Stevie's older brother Jimmie belonged to a band, and an enthusiastic Stevie sat in on their practice sessions.

When it came to buying records, the brothers also shared similar tastes, preferring blues albums recorded by B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Albert Collins.

Born on October 3, 1954, Stevie was 14 the first time he performed professionally. He was a member of several bands including Blackbird, the Chan­tones, the Epileptic Marshmallow, and Cracker Jack.

For a brief period, he was also the bass player in Jimmie's band, Texas Storm. In 1973 Stevie started his own band, the Nightcrawlers, but he soon left it to join a rhythm­and-blues combo, the Cobras.

In 1977 he joined Triple Threat, a band that boasted three lead singers, including Lou Ann Barton. In the late 1970s Vaughan and Barton formed a new band, Double Trouble, and by 1981 the band consisted of Vaughan, bassist Tommy Shannon, and drummer Chris "Whipper" Layton.

Record producer Jerry Wexler heard Vaughan performing in an Austin club and arranged for the band to perform at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Fes­tival. Double Trouble was the first band to perform at the festival without a record. David Bowie was in the audience and later approached Vaughan about playing on his next album, Let's Dance. He played guitar on six of the album's tunes, exposing his talents to a completely new audience.

Vaughan's debut album, Texas Flood, was released in June 1983. In 1985 Vaughan received his first Grammy for his track on Blues Explosion. A year later, while performing in London, Vaughan collapsed on stage. He checked into a clinic to receive treatment for his drug and alcohol problem. Following his release from the clinic, a recovered Vaughan resumed per­forming.

In 1990 Vaughan received his second Grammy for In Step. On August 27, 1990, Vaughan performed with Eric Clapton at an out­door concert in Wisconsin. Following the concert, Stevie Ray Vaughan boarded a helicopter to fly to Chicago. Clapton boarded a second helicopter. Shortly after taking off in a dense fog, Vaughan's helicopter crashed into a hill. There were no survivors.
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