Stevie Ray Vaughan
Even though Stevie Ray Vaughan claimed Jimi Hendrix as a major influence, it was after seeing a Cream concert in '68 that a fourteen-year-old Vaughan decided to play guitar. He had a major advantage. Jimmie Vaughan, who had been touring since '66, offered his kid brother some pointers. Jimmie would later join forces with Kim Wilson and start the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Stevie Ray played the Blues circuit around Austin, TX, launching Triple Threat, which eventually evolved into Double Trouble in '81 with Tommy Shannon playing bass and Chris Layton on drums. The following year Reese Wynans joined on keyboards and Epic Records signed the group. While playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Vaughan came to the attention of David Bowie who used him on the "Let's Dance" track. That wasn't bad for '82. But '83 was even better.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut CD "Texas Flood." The CD featured Hard Rock and Blues shuffles. "Pride and Joy" and "Rude Mood" were the outstanding tracks. "Pride and Joy" showed off both Vaughan's guitar and vocal skills. "Rude Mood" sounded like its title and had a genuine bite to it. Vaughan's best work featured a stinging guitar that had an intense passion behind it. With great guitarist like Vaughan, the playing was more than a collection of notes.
The follow up, "Couldn't Stand The Weather," was notable for an excellent cover of the Hendrix classic "Voodoo Chile." Vaughan, later in his career, created a breathtaking version of another Hendrix song, "Little Wing."
By the mid '80s, Vaughan was having drug and alcohol problems and not achieving anything close to his potential. However, he was able to beat his demons, or at least dispatch them, by the end of the decade. "In Step" was Vaughan's comeback. The guitar playing was strong and his vocals had more power and confidence. His next project was an album with his brother Jimmie called "Family Style."
After "Family Style," Stevie Ray went on tour with Eric Clapton. The show in East Troy, WI, on 8/27/90 was memorable in part because it ended with a jam session featuring Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Buddy Guy. After the concert two helicopters were to take the musicians, Clapton's manager Bobby Brooks and tour manager Nigel Brown to Chicago. Vaughan, Brooks and Brown were on the second helicopter. It crashed in a heavy fog killing all passengers.
A collection of unreleased material "The Sky Is Crying" was released posthumously. There have also been "Greatest Hits" and "Tribute" CDs along with a collection of early recordings.
The ragged guitarist, either unshaven or sporting a spotty beard with a wide brim a hat pulled down to his eyebrows, didn't exactly project a star aura -certainly not in a pop sense - but he sure could play and sing. He blended electric Blues with Rock for a tough barroom sound.
A good place to start is "Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble." This two-CD set has "Pride And Joy" and "The House Is Rockin'" but there are some serious holes. His covers of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," both awesome, are live which may or may not be to everyone's liking. A better option is "Greatest Hits" and "Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume II." These two albums have the more concise studio versions of the Wonder and Hendrix covers plus all the classic Vaughan tracks. But don't get one without the other.
"Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Live At Montreux 1982 & 1985" features two shows with different expectations. In '82 Vaughan is unknown and unappreciated. In '85 he returns the conquering hero.