Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Blues Revival
Stevie Ray Vaughan was responsible for the blues revival of the mid-1980s. Blues had slowly been fading as a popular music style until Stevie’s first album, “Texas Flood” came out on Epic Records. Stevie had been noticed by John Hammond, a legendary folk, jazz and blues talent scout and Hammond was blown away by the “Texas Flood” masters, which were recorded on a Thanksgiving weekend in Jackson Browne’s studio. Hammond lacked the resources to distribute Stevie’s album himself, so he took it to Epic.
Stevie’s blues was derived from a number of sources–especially Jimi Hendrix and Albert King. He was also seriously influenced by Freddie King as his early live sets included familiar Freddie King tunes like “Hideaway.”
For his first album, Stevie preferred the power trio that performed a memorable concert at the El Mocambo in Canada with Tommy Shannon on bass and Chris Layton on drums. While Stevie added keyboardist Reese Wynans toward the end of his short career, he was always loyal to Shannon and Layton even though record company execs advised him to find different players.
Big time music acts many times operate in a culture surrounded by easily available drugs and alcohol and the Double Trouble experience was no different. Stevie’s favorite cocktail was a mixture of cocaine and Crown Royal.
Severe stomach problems in Germany finally led Stevie to believe that he needed addiction help and by the late 1980s he was healthy and dried out.
Some of Stevie’s most powerful performances occurred during this time and culminated with an all-star show at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy Wisconsin, featuring Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. Stevie was so amazing that Eric Clapton asked Buddy Guy, “how am I going to follow that?” Four hours later Stevie was dead when the helicopter he had boarded crashed into the side of steep hill. He was 35.