About an hour after midnight, on August 27th, 1990, the world lost a great musician, a visionary, and, by all accounts, a personable, humble man. Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan, aged 35, perished in a helicopter crash in Southeastern Wisconsin. It was a painful blow to the music community, as evidenced by legends like Stevie Wonder and Jackson Browne's attendance at his funeral in his hometown, Oak Cliff, TX.
Vaughan's rise to relevance began in Dallas on October 3rd, 1954. His early life was quite turbulent. Due to his father's profession, he was forced to move all over Texas. No matter where they lived, Stevie's household was filled with music, as his parents were huge fans of country and western, as well as western swing. His brother, Jimmie, three years his senior, was given his first guitar at the age of twelve, with his younger brother eager to follow suit. Once the Vaughan Brothers both got guitars, they began teaching themselves how to play by listening to rock 'n' roll artists like Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, as well as the soulful sound of bluesmen like Albert King and Buddy Guy.
In 1971, Jimmie headed to Austin, and Stevie followed suit, with his band Blackbird in tow. In 1978, Stevie formed Double Trouble. In 1983, the group (listed as "Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble) burst on to the music scene with the iconic, blues-rock masterpiece, Texas Flood. Recorded at Jackson Browne's studio, the record boasts classics like the up-tempo, whiskey-soaked stomper "Pride and Joy" and "Lenny," a virtuosic, instrumental tribute to his then wife, Lenora. From there, Vaughan's legend would only grow. He would release five more brilliant studio albums. One of which was a legendary session with one of his heroes, Albert King. Their 1983 collaboration, In Session, sees King, one of the great guitarists of all time, give Stevie and his talent the ultimate respect, saying that Vaughan was one of the few guitarists whose playing is as technically impressive as soulful. King's endorsement helped legitimize Vaughan as one of the top guitarists on the planet. Family Style, his final release, was an upbeat, blistering collaboration with his brother Jimmie.
While Vaughan was excellent in the studio, he was unrivaled on stage. He embarked on world tours, and released a number of live albums, most notably, 1986's Live Alive. The album featured performances from the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and three Texas shows in 1986. The recording shows Stevie at his best, ripping through his classic songs ("Pride and Joy" and "Love Struck Baby"), as well as his signature cover tunes (Hendrix's "Voodo Child (Slight Return)" and Buddy Guy's "Mary Had A Little Lamb").
Though Stevie is gone, his recordings continue to influence and captivate people all over the world. Though many have tried, none have come close to recreating the legendary sound and spirit of Stevie Ray Vaughan.