I play guitar. Have for years. I often stick in a CD and play along (or try to) with Buddy Guy, Eddie Campbell, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and so many others. Lead or rhythm. But the chap I’d like to play like is Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990). He was amazing. I’d give my left arm to . . . . no – wait a minute. . .
Stevie Ray was born and raised in Dallas, TX. At age 7, he received a gift — a plastic guitar from a Sears catalog. He liked music. He tried to play drums. Then sax. But the guitar idea stuck. And he got a real guitar and learned to play by listening to the greats above plus masters like Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix. His first public performance was at age 11 in a local Dallas talent contest. And he realized – this is where it’s at. “SRV” as he was known dropped out of high school and moved to Austin — to pursue his passion — music. In 1977, the band Double Trouble was born. And it soared – with SRV at the helm. But SRV developed an alcohol and cocaine habit while touring with Double Trouble. His performance contracts called for two fifths of Crown Royal and a fifth of Smirnoff vodka. His cocaine use jumped to 7 grams a day (together with the booze). After a long stay in rehab, he returned to performing. Stevie was spiritual, ascetic and sober. And he went into high gear on producing some of his best music.
But the music died on August 27, 1990. Double Trouble opened for Eric Clapton at the Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin. After the show, the musicians boarded four helicopters bound for Chiciago. SRV’s helicopter took off after midnight and crashed into a 1000 foot ski hill. Killing all aboard. It was everyone’s loss.