American musician (1954-1990). Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Stevie Ray began playing guitar as a child, inspired by his big brother Jimmie. After dropping out of school to concentrate on his music, Stevie and his band, Double Trouble, played in Austin, becoming a very popular regional band. They played at the Montreux Festival, where Stevie Ray's playing caught the ears of David Bowie and Jackson Browne.

Wider success soon followed, as their debut album, "Texas Flood", proved a modest hit with rock fans and a massive hit with blues fans. The followup album, "Couldn't Stand the Weather", was even more successful, with Stevie Ray's blistering cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" garnering rave reviews and adding to Stevie Ray's fan base. Some fans even started talking up SRV as Hendrix's equal.

Stevie went through a period of addiction to alcohol and drugs, but he kicked his habits during a stay at a rehab clinic. The album which followed, "In Step", was the band's biggest success, earning a Grammy and going gold after only six months.

Stevie Ray died in a helicopter crash after playing in a concert in Wisconsin with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Cray. After his death, a number of posthumous albums were released that proved even more popular than his previous records, particularly "The Sky Is Crying".

Stevie Ray has been credited with kicking off the blues revival that marked the late 1980s and early 1990s, and many musicians, including older musicians who he considered inspirations, still think of him as one of the best blues musicians ever.

In 1982 Stevie Ray and Double Trouble were the first unsigned, unrecorded band to play at the Montreux International Jazz Festival in Switzerland. While their performance shocked a few in the crowd it also resulted in Stevie Ray being invited to play on David Bowie's upcoming Let's Dance album, Jackson Browne offering them free studio time just to get them recorded and a Grammy for their performance of "Texas Flood".

More?

In 1983 Stevie Ray was voted Best New Talent, Best Electric Blues Guitar Player and Best Guitar Album (Texas Flood) in Guitar Player Magazine. He was the only guitarist to win three awards since Jeff Beck did it in 1976. He would go on to win Best Electric Blues Guitarist every year until 1991, the year after his death.

More?

In 1984 Stevie Ray wins two W.C. Handy National Blues Awards, one for Entertainer of the Year and one for Blues Instrumentalist of Year. He was the first white person to win either award.

I can do this all day...

At the 8th Annual Austin Music Awards he was awarded Musician of the Decade while he and his band won Record of the Decade for Texas Flood, Record of the Year for In Step and for "Crossfire" Single of the Year. At the 19th Annual Austin Music Awards, just a few months before his death, he again won Musician of the Decade while "Crossfire" won Single of the Decade and Song of the Decade, The Sky is Crying took Album of the Decade and his drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon took home Drummer of the Decade and Bassist of the Decade. Including Storyville, the guys took home nine of the twelve Decade awards.

One more, and then we get on with it.

A Guitar World magazine reader's poll named him the 2nd best guitarist of the millenium behind his idol Jimi Hendrix. In England's Guitarist magazine he didn't fare quite as well competing with local favorites. He had to settle for 4th best guitarist of the millenium behind Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Tough crowd...


He was born on October 3rd, 1954 at Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas to Big Jim and Martha Vaughan. He died just 36 days shy of his 36th birthday in a helicopter accident in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. In between those two dates he became one of the biggest guitar players ever, rivaling even Jimi Hendrix for the title of Greatest, and was the man most responsible for revitalizing the electric blues.

His entry to music is owed to his big brother Jimmie Vaughan, his first musical influence and also a talented and well-respected guitarist. Three years his senior, Jimmie was responsible for the music Stevie heard growing up including such disparate guitarists as Kenny Burrell, Charlie Christian, Albert Collins, Jimmy Reed, Django Reinhardt and the three Kings, Albert, B.B. and Freddie. Jimmie was also the one who gifted young Stevie with his first two electric guitars, the first a hollow-body Gibson Messenger and the second a '52 Fender Broadcaster.

"I wanted to play drums, but I didn't have any drums. Then I wanted to play saxophone, but all I could get out of it was a few squeaks. My big brother played guitar, so I figured I'd try it too. He would leave his guitars around the house, and tell me not to touch 'em. That's basically how I got started - sneaking into his room and playing his guitars. It didn't take me any time to figure out that that was what I wanted to do." — Stevie Ray Vaughan

Encouraged by none other than Doyle Bramhall at the age of 12, within a year Stevie is playing private parties and school dances. Around 1967 he moves up to outdoor venues with a gig at Lee Park in Dallas. He continues playing through school, realizing that music will be his life about the same age the rest of us are thinking about learning to drive. He sits in on his first studio record in 1971 and drops out of high school later that year to devote himself to music full time.

In 1969 Jimmie Vaughan moved to Austin, Texas to join the young and growing blues scene there. Dallas had become something of a hit parade and Austin was where fresh, original work was accepted. A few years later, in 1972, young Stevie would join him there. Within no time Stevie Ray is playing in the band Krackerjack with Uncle John Turner, Johnny Winter's drummer, and Tommy Shannon on bass. The summer he moved out there he also saw Albert King perform live, Albert would end up being one of Stevie's biggest musical influences. Within a few years, in this concentrated blues scene, Stevie would get to share a stage with Albert King.

"The skinny kid in hip-hugger bell-bottoms and downcast eyes blew away gruff old Albert King that night. At one point, Mr. King stepped away from Little Stevie and hid his guitar behind the stage curtains, as if to say, 'This little kid is scaring my guitar." — Brad Bucholz, Dallas Morning News

Shortly after this, in early 1973, Stevie leaves Krackerjack to play with The Nightcrawlers. Their line-up included Drew Pennington on vocals, Keith Ferguson on bass and Stevie's earliest influence Doyle Bramhall on drums. Playing Wednesday nights at the One Knite where his older brother played Mondays with Texas Storm these are, on one hand, Stevie Ray's formative years. On the other, though, at just 19 years of age he is an accomplished guitarist and experienced club musician.

The tail end of 1974 would see an important change, for us anyways, in Stevie Ray Vaughan's career. He leaves The Nightcrawlers to join The Cobras. It is with The Cobras that Stevie is recorded, 'for real', for the first time when he plays lead guitar on the B side of the band's regionally released 45. It is also with The Cobras that Stevie first begins singing.

"I was sitting in the audience at a little club downtown on Congress Avenue called After Hours. I was checking out Stevie with The Cobras. Then, all of a sudden, Stevie starts singing that Freddie King song, 'Goin' Down,' and I nearly fell off my chair. Everybody knew he was a great guitar player, but nobody had ever heard him sing before. Later, he developed his voice into a phenomenal instrument, even though he remained kind of shy about it. Hendrix said he didn't like his own voice, either, and I always felt he had an incredible singing voice. I thought the same thing about Stevie. I mean, there was more to him than just playing single notes on the guitar." — Van Wilks, Austin guitarist

Stevie forms his own first band, Triple Threat Revue, a few years later. It features Mike Kendrid, W.C. Clark, Freddie Pharaoh and one of my personal favorite vocalists Lou Ann Barton. These super-talented musicians packed into one band were indeed a threat, to each other unfortunately. Lou Ann is looking for a guitarist to back up her vocals and Stevie is looking for a vocalist to back up his guitar. Lou Ann Barton leaves the band in 1980 and the band changes its name to Double Trouble as Stevie changes the line-up to include old friend Tommy Shannon and places Chris Layton on drums. We now have, at the end of this busy decade, arrived at the band Stevie is most known for.

It is in the 1980s, 'little Stevie' now Stevie Ray, that Stevie Ray and Double Trouble really take off. Stevie Ray has done a decade of clubs, played with dozens of influential musicians and really tightened his act. In parlance, "he's paid his dues." In 1981 Double Trouble is recorded playing at a festival outside of Austin. A year later this tape would fall into Mick Jagger's hands and lead to Double Trouble playing a private party for the Rolling Stones at The Danceteria in New York.

One week after that gig, thanks to the efforts of R&B producer Jerry Wexler, Double Trouble is placed on the lineup for the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. This is a major feat for Double Trouble as they are the first ever unsigned and unrecorded act to play at the festival. Jerry's judgement is vindicated when they win a Grammy for their performance of "Texas Flood". David Bowie catches the show and asks Stevie to play guitar on his upcoming Let's Dance album (which would go on to sell three times as many copies as Bowie's previous effort). Stevie declines to go on tour with him, however. Jackson Brown also catches their show and ends up inviting them to record at his Downtown Studio in Los Angeles, for free. In just two days they cut the demo that would become their first album, Texas Flood. When John Hammond gets his hands on the demo he signs them to Epic Records.

"The first great Texas guitar player I ever saw in the flesh was T-Bone Walker, back in 1936. And Stevie Ray is in that great tradition. He has such a direct quality. And he's a great showman too, just like T-Bone was." - John Hammond

Signed now, recording and touring, this is the Stevie Ray most fans are familiar with. His first album would net him two Grammy nominations, sell half a million in its first year and reach 38 on the Billboard album charts. Double Trouble's second album, Couldn't Stand the Weather, would include a video, getting the band airtime on MTV and helping to push their second effort to platinum status. A few years after this Reese Wynans joins the band on organ and they release their third album, Soul to Soul.

In 1986, following a grueling tour schedule and too many late nights working on Live Alive, Stevie Ray collapses during a show in Germany. He's been abusing cocaine to an extent impossible to maintain. While his crash was certainly predictable, and many other musicians have commented on that, it also seems in retrospect to have been necessary. In trying to learn to deal with all of his new-found fame, in trying to maintain his schedule, Stevie just burnt out. In one interview he mentions receiving advice in succession from Lonnie Mack, Eric Clapton and Albert King. Eric Clapton and Vaughan chatted for hours. In Vaughan's recollection Eric didn't tell him what to do, just how it had been for Eric in that place. In Eric's recollection of that encounter Vaughan had been ready for certain advice but not ready to confront his drug problem yet.

In any event, Stevie Ray quietly checked himself into a Charter rehab center in Georgia, in October of 1986. The Stevie Ray Vaughan who came out the other side was both a new man and yet, quintessentially the same. Stevie Ray had always been humble about his gifts, about his success. He had always been devoted to friends and family, to being personal. Added to this was an earnestness and renewed humility. He spoke at numerous AA meetings, he became a very spiritual person. He discovered a part of himself that was probably there the whole time but hadn't been allowed expression until then. He would remain clean and sober for the rest of his life, unusual in an industry in which so many of the best and brightest are taken from us by their addictions.

Back on the road, playing better than ever, Stevie Ray adds a movie credit to his resume when he appears with Dick Dale in Back to the Beach and another screen appearance on a B.B. King Cinemax special. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble go political when they perform at George Bush's Inaugural party. Shortly after that they are onscreen again when MTV invites them to do an episode of MTV Unplugged. They win yet another Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Record for their fourth studio album, In Step.

Things could not be going better for Stevie Ray Vaughan. He'd just finished recording some sessions with his brother Jimmie for their upcoming album Family Style when they get to play a gig together in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. It is August 26th, 1990 and Stevie Ray is part of the bill at the sold out concert. After a final, rousing encore that included his older brother Jimmie as well as such guitar gods as Robert Cray, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy Stevie boarded a helicopter bound for Chicago. Just moments after take-off the helicopter crashed into a fog shrouded hillside killing Stevie, the pilot and three of Eric Clapton's entourage.

Death could not stop such a talent as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Unlike most musicians who work and work to fill an album with good material, Stevie had a wealth of unreleased music. He would win Grammy's, gold and platinum albums, and a list of awards, after his death, as long as those he won while still playing. His career, though not as brief as some, and not nearly long enough for most, is still a shining example today. His influence is nearly as strong now as it was a decade and a half ago when his career "ended".

Discography

Texas Flood - 1983, Epic Records
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Guitar, Vocals
Tommy Shannon - Bass
Chris Layton - Drums

Their debut album spent over half a year on the charts sparking a revitalization of the blues in America. After years of touring together, playing clubs, the band's sound was tight, polished. Not just a euphemism, the band actually recorded the entire album live in the studio without headphones or overdubbing.

"In the middle of one of the tunes I broke a string and we had to stop. After I changed the string we picked up right where we left off — and punched back in at the same time. I don’t know if this has ever been done before. The engineer sort of looked at us weird, but we got it on the first take." — Stevie Ray Vaughan

When trying to find something to criticize in Stevie Ray's blues it is sometimes noted that his borrowing is overt, his influences too obvious. Knowing Stevie though it is obvious this is not for lack of talent or creativity, he is celebrating the past masters who got him this far. The end product is fresher, more exciting, and has a much broader appeal. As has been said about one of his contemporaries, George Thorogood, 'he does me better than I do me.' This is how the blues are made.

Love Struck Baby (2:23), Pride and Joy (3:40), Texas Flood (5:24), Tell Me (2:49), Testify (3:25), Rude Mood (4:40), Mary Had a Little Lamb (2:44), Dirty Pool (5:00), I'm Cryin' (3:42), Lenny (4:57)


Couldn't Stand the Weather - 1984, Epic Records
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Guitar, Vocals
Jimmie Vaughan - Guitar
Tommy Shannon - Bass
Stan Harrison - Saxophone
Chris Layton - Drums
Fran Christina - Drums

This album contains four covers and four originals, two of which are instrumentals. To many this was a letdown, they found fault with the selections; they found no specific innovation, no strides made from the first album. To many more this was just more of Stevie Ray. If you loved the first album then there was no reason you wouldn't love this one. Musically this album is more up-tempo. The title track is a classic, the band 'owns' their version of "Cold Shot" and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" just blisters. Does it sound too much like Jimi's original? Has it ever been a bad thing to remind people of Jimi?

Scuttle Buttin' (1:49), Couldn't Stand the Weather (4:40), The Things That I Used to Do (4:53), Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) (7:58), Cold Shot (3:57), Tin Pan Alley (9:10), Honey Bee (2:40), Stang's Swang (2:41)


Soul to Soul - 1985, Epic Records
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Guitar, Vocals
Danny Kadar - Guitar
Tommy Shannon - Bass
Chris Layton - Drums
Joe Sublett - Saxophone
Reese Wynans - Keyboards

Prior to this album the band consisted of Stevie, Tommy and Chris. Any other musicians listed were guest musicians. For this album the band adds Reese Wynans and Joe Sublett, emphasizing their new direction. Soul, R&B, a bigger, fuller sound comes through the basic blues template. This is definitely a blues album, it is just.. richer. Sometimes referred to as a transition album, Soul to Soul takes a hit by comparison with Texas Flood or Couldn't Stand the Weather on the one side and In Step on the other. Whether it was his impending collapse from drug abuse or the incredible success of In Step, this album just doesn't seem to get as much credit. For all that, "Look at Little Sister" is definitely worth a listen and "Life Without You" is worth the price of the album.

Say What! (5:23), Lookin' Out the Window (2:47), Look at Little Sister (3:07), Ain't Gone 'N Give up on Love (6:06), Gone Home (3:04), Change It (3:56), You'll Be Mine (3:42), Empty Arms (3:02), Come on (Part III) (4:30), Life With You (4:16)


Live Alive - 1986, Epic Records
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Guitar, Vocals
Jimmie Vaughan - Guitar
Tommy Shannon - Bass
Chris Layton - Drums
Reese Wynans - Keyboards

The inevitable double live album - well, inevitable for every band composed of actual musicians who play actual music - this album was recorded from shows from 1983-1985. It includes some of their best tracks from the first albums along with a few new covers, including Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." This is a must-have for the collection as it is here that Stevie Ray's scorching guitar is most available. Check the length of each song here as compared to the studio version, only one is actually shorter.

Say What! (4:51), Ain't Gone 'N Give up on Love (6:25), Pride and Joy (5:05), Mary Had a Little Lamb (4:15), Superstition (4:43), I'm Leaving You (Commit a Crime) (5:35), Cold Shot (5:40), Willie the Wimp (4:39), Look at Little Sister (4:15), Texas Flood (6:30), Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) (9:37), Love Struck Baby (3:46), Change It (5:03)


In Step - 1989, Epic Records
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Guitar, Vocals
Tommy Shannon - Bass
Chris Layton - Drums
Joe Sublett - Saxophone
Darrell Leonard - Horn
Reese Wynans - Keyboards

The promise of Soul to Soul's "Life Without You" is delivered in this album. It can only be called the culmination of his work because of his untimely death a year later. It is the realized direction his work was taking though; older now, clean and sober, perhaps a bit more confident, this album pulls together his influences and desires into a tight package. It is difficult listening when one considers what might have come next.

While the album still contains cover tunes they are better picked and placed than previous ones. It is the original tunes that really shine here. Co-written with Doyle Bramhall, Stevie's earliest encouragement and the man who contributed "Change It" to Soul to Soul, their collaboration results in some really special music. From up-tempo boogie "The House is Rockin'" and the rock-blues fusion "Scratch-N-Sniff" to the amazing, finger-breaking instrumental "Travis Walk" to the deeply moving "Wall of Denial" all of Stevie's experiences and influences are blended and displayed in their best light. From his live album to this to what might have been... it is no wonder that Stevie Ray Vaughan gets almost solo credit for revitalizing the blues in America. He, nearly, single-handedly resurrected an art form and made it popular to an audience who had never heard blues before.

The House is Rockin' (2:23), Crossfire (4:10), Tightrope (4:41), Let Me Love You Baby (2:44), Leave My Girl Alone (4:16), Travis Walk (2:20), Wall of Denial (5:36), Scratch-N-Sniff (2:44), Love Me Darlin' (3:21), Riviera Paradise (8:48)


The rest of the albums are posthumous releases, greatest hits or re-releases. Stevie Ray differed from most artists in one special way, he had more material than he could use. Without a will at the time of his death his estate went to his brother Jimmie and mother Martha. Unlike poor Al Hendrix, Jimi's dad, Jimmie and Martha were prepared to do the right thing. While they did sign over Stevie's catalogue to Sony they retained artistic control over any products that were released. In retrospect this arrangement has worked out well. Stevie Ray has won three Grammy's since his death, his catalogue is managed by professionals and someone who loved him, only wants the best for him and who knows more than a bit about the blues has final artistic say.

Family Style, 1990 - His collaborative effort with his brother Jimmie.
The Sky is Crying, 1991 - Previously unreleased tracks and outtakes, notable for the inclusion of "Little Wing", once voted the best guitar instrumental ever.
In The Beginning, 1992 - A 1980 concert, Stevie before he was Stevie Ray.
Live at Carnegie Hall, 1997 - His birthday performance from October 1984.
SRV, 2000 - A 3 CD box set which includes songs from their 1989 Austin City Limits appearance.
Live at Montreux: 1982 & 1985

Greatest Hits, 1995
The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Vol. 2, 1999
Texas Flood, 1999 - includes 5 bonus tracks
Couldn't Stand the Weather, 1999 - 5 bonus tracks
Soul to Soul, 1999 - 3 bonus tracks
In Step, 1999 - 5 bonus tracks
Blues at Sunrise, 2000 - A 'themed' greatest hits or collection, includes two previously unreleased songs.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.