Volume #11, Issue #2

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
RESURRECTING THE BLUES
By Toni A. Brown

            Texas born blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan is finally garnering some attention after 20 years of playing the blues. After so much time spent paying his dues, Stevie looks back and says there were good times and fun…and none of it was too bad.

            Stevie Ray Vaughan doesn’t seem to be the type to let success go to his head. He’s a quiet and reserved man, but at the same time, an inner fire burns. He has obviously gone the route of many blues musicians before him, but instead of slipping into obscurity, something clicked. Word of his ability spread before he got off the club circuit. He has since been blowing everybody off of the stage! By the time he was scheduled to open up for a past Moody Blues tour, more people were buying tickets to see this guitar wizard than to see the legendary Moody Blues. But justifiably so. Stevie Ray is being compared to some of the best guitarists, including Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. When we asked him how he felt about these comparisons, he patiently replied, “I figure that people need to use comparisons just to explain what they’re talking about.

            “Jimi Hendrix was a big influence on my music. What he was doing with his music and why, the soul he projected. But there was only one Hendrix and there’ll never be another,” explains Stevie Ray Vaughan. “I guess I’ve been influenced by everything I’ve ever heard. But I’d have to say my brother Jimmie was my biggest influence. He’s in the Fabulous Thunderbirds now.”

            Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble are responsible for single-handedly resurrecting the blues in 1983. They ended the year playing to a sold-out house at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Among the crowd of blues devotees was one of Stevie’s earliest fans, Mick Jagger, who actually ventured out into the audience to watch Stevie’s guitar pyrotechnics! After being thoroughly dazzled, Mick attempted to regain admittance backstage but was stopped by a security guard who demanded identification. Luckily, Mick didn’t leave home without his American Express card because that was what he used.

            1983 also saw the release of Stevie’s critically-acclaimed album, Texas Flood, which recently won honors as “Best Guitar Album” in the 1983 Guitar Player Readers Poll—the first blues album to ever win that category; additionally, Stevie was voted “Best New Talent” and “Best Electric Guitarist”.

            Considering the fact that Stevie Ray Vaughan is a “new” artist, and the “types” of music that usually find success, we asked Stevie if he was surprised at the success of Texas Flood. “I was surprised at the great response we got. But I also figured that one of the strongest selling points was that it wasn’t synthesized. It sticks out, it’s completely different from anything on the commercial market.”

            We asked Stevie if he had studied music. “I took music in school once and for the first 6 weeks, I passed. Then, I flunked for the rest of the time. I think people who can’t handle formal training get stuck just having a piece of paper in front of them. But it doesn’t hurt to know those in-betweens.”

            Stevie Ray Vaughan is very loyal to his band, Double Trouble. We wondered how they got together. “I met Tommy Shannon (bass) in Dallas around ’68. We’ve been playing together off and on ever since. Chris Layton (drums) and I are together about 5 years. I met him in Austin. Actually, when I met him, he had his drums set up in his kitchen. He had headphones on and he was banging away for about 5 minutes and didn’t even know I was there. When he finished, I just asked him if he wanted to change his gig.”

            A new album has just been recorded and should be released sometime in April, 1984. Stevie anticipates doing some video work around it, but isn’t sure of what songs will be used. But he does promise some surprises on the album.

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