Stevie Ray Vaughan, so much has been written about him that you have to wonder is there any more to actually say? As I write this I’m listening to the track Couldn’t Stand The Weather off the album of the same name, which features not only a magnificent head bending intro with it’s staggered timing, but also a piece of blues funk playing that is simply sublime.
Born in 1954 in Austin Texas Stevie Ray was inspired to start playing guitar at the age of 7 after seeing his older brother Jimmie play. Which co-incedently is exactly why I first picked the guitar, well actually it wasn’t mine, it was my older brothers and I’d play in secret, usually pretending I was Hank Marvin.
After being inspired by his brother Stevie started to play, and was soon becoming inspired by blues legends Albert King, Otis Rush and Muddy Waters. Jimi Hendrix would also be an influence and three Hendrix songs would end up on Stevie’s solo albums, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) on Couldn’t Stand The Weather and a Little Wing/Third Stone From The Sun mash up on the extended Soul To Soul record.
Stevie was a player not only of supreme talent but also incredible feeling, both gentle and pure raw power.
Over the last few days I’ve listened to his entire studio back catalogue and a few live albums and watched some videos on YouTube. The more I listen, the more I can’t get my head around how good he actually was. Perhaps it me getting older but I’v been listening to him on and off for years but this time round it actually feels like something has clicked into place for me.
On the CD’s I have there is a track on each one called SRV speaks, they are only a minute or so long but they give just a glimmer of insight into the man. In one he speaks about avoiding a crispy death in hot barrels of cooking oil by minutes, which not surprisingly made him decide he wanted to do what Albert King did and play guitar for a living. In another he discusses the type of shuffles and rhythms that he learn’t as a child, wonderful little stories, that as I said give a tiny peak at the man behind the Strat.
Stevie sadly passed away in a helicopter accident in 1990 along with members of Eric Clapton’s crew and the pilot. His brother Jimmie had to identify his body which I don’t even want to imagine.
On his final record In Step there is a track at the very end, a live cut called Life With Out You. I don’t know if this was intentional from the people who re-released it, but not only does the title of the song have an impact, Stevie’s speech in the middle of the song about over coming his demons of Alcohol and Cocaine and how a near death experience from extreme dehydration brought him up short has power. It’s sad to hear a man talk about his new found respect for life who was then taken at the age of 35, the same age as my brother and just 5 years older than me now.
I’m thankful though like so many others that he recorded his music with Double Trouble and that we have a legacy to listen too and videos to watch. Got to go now, Tin Pan Alley has just come on and I feel some slow air gutaring coming on.
Featured image link:
Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Live From Austin Texas