Stevie Ray Vaughan
The life of Stevie Ray Vaughn was one of amazing success that sadly ended when the musician was only 35 years old. Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas in 1954. Brother Jimmie was three years older and had a great influence on Stevie’s musical development. It was Jimmie’s guitar that Stevie Ray Vaughn picked up to play when he was only eight, and Jimmie appeared with him on stage at his last performance before his untimely death in a helicopter crash in 1990.
At the age of 17, Stevie quit school and dedicated his life to his guitar, playing with the Cobras who appeared in Austin bars in the 1970’s. Stevie was known for his understanding of R&B and soul. Stevie Ray began his band Triple Threat in 1975 featuring a bassist, drummer, and vocalist Lou Ann Barton. Barton left the band three years later when conflict with Stevie became too much for both of them to be happy with. After Barton left the band, Stevie took over the role of lead singer and formed the new band, Triple Threat.
Stevie is known for his unique guitar playing that is full of passion and soul. He is also known as one of the greatest blues guitarists of his generation. In fact, Stevie Ray is credited for reigniting the popularity of blues in the 1980’s. His unique style is a combination of rock and blues that had not been done since the late 1960’s. Musicians who influenced Stevie Ray were Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, and Lonnie Mack and others.
Stevie Ray’s musical accomplishments were numerous, including a performance at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland. It was here that David Bowie heard Stevie Ray play and asked him to appear on his album and to travel on his world tour. Stevie Ray did cut the music for the album, but did not go along on the tour since it would have meant abandoning his band and their plans. Around this same time, Jackson Browne offered to allow Stevie Ray to record in his studio.
A short while later, Epic Records offered Stevie Ray and Triple Threat a contract, and his first album, Texas Flood, was a great success in both the rock and blues genres. His second album, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, sold even more albums and went gold in 1985. Later that year, the group’s third album, Soul to Soul, was released and also rose up in the charts to be quite successful. In 1986, their fourth album, Live Alive, pushed Stevie Ray’s musical career forward.
During the following year, Stevie Ray checked into a rehabilitation facility to deal with his alcohol and cocaine drug addiction. After leaving, Stevie Ray and Double Trouble were a headline group at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and he wrote his next and most successful album, In Step. This album was awarded a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Recording, and it went gold shortly after.
Stevie Ray’s next venture was to record an album with his brother, Jimmie before taking off on an American tour. After the performance in Wisconsin where Jimmie also performed that night, the helicopter carrying Stevie Ray crashed and killed Vaughan and four others.
Several albums have been released since Stevie Ray’s untimely death, including the one that was cut with his brother Jimmie entitled, Family Style. The Sky Is Crying was released in 1991 which features recordings from earlier times. Other albums released since the singer’s death are Greatest Hits in 1995 and The Real Deal: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 in 2000. All of these have been very successful in sales, and Stevie Ray remains a popular artist, even today.