Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stephen “Stevie” Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Often referred to by his initials SRV, Vaughan is best known as a founding member and leader of Double Trouble. Together with drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, they ignited the blues revival of the 1980s. With a career spanning seven years, Vaughan and Double Trouble consistently sold out concerts while their albums frequently went gold.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, as the younger brother of Jimmie Vaughan, Vaughan started playing the guitar at age seven and formed several bands that occasionally performed in local nightclubs. At age 17, he dropped out of high school and moved to Austin to further pursue his musical career, joining groups such as Krackerjack, the Nightcrawlers, and the Cobras. In 1977, he formed Triple Threat Revue, a band that eventually evolved into Double Trouble and regularly performed around Austin. In 1982, Vaughan and Double Trouble performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, catching the attention of musicians David Bowie and Jackson Browne. Bowie asked Vaughan to play on his upcoming studio album Let’s Dance, while Browne offered the band free use of his personal studio in Los Angeles to record an album.

In March 1983, Vaughan and Double Trouble were signed to Epic Records by veteran record producer John Hammond Sr. and released their debut album, Texas Flood in June of that year. After successful touring, the group released the albums, Couldn’t Stand the Weather (1984) and Soul to Soul (1985), the latter of which featured new keyboardist Reese Wynans. Although his career had progressed successfully, Vaughan checked into a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia to give up a cocaine and alcohol habit and returned to touring with the band. In June 1989, In Step was released and earned them a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Performance. On August 27, 1990, Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash following a performance in East Troy, Wisconsin.

Vaughan’s uniquely eclectic yet intense style was derived from a variety of musical genres. He was influenced by blues musicians including Albert King, Otis Rush, and Muddy Waters, and rock guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack, along with jazz instrumentalists like Kenny Burrell. He has received wide critical recognition for his guitar playing, ranking at #12 on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists” in 2011. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000 and a memorial statue was erected in Austin’s Auditorium Shores park.

 

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THE GREAT STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN

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