Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stephen Ray Vaughan was born on October 3, 1954, in Dallas, Texas to Martha Jean and Jimmie Lee "Big Jim" Vaughan. James Lawrence "Jimmie" Vaughan, his brother, was three years older. Vaughan had ancestors who performed in bands with Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, as well as Western swing groups in the Dallas area. Big Jim was an asbestos worker, switching from one construction site to the next, and leaving the family filled with uncertainty. After settling in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff, Vaughan attended Lenore Kirk Hall Elementary.
After observing Jimmie, Vaughan initially played his brother's guitars before receiving one of his own.
Among the first songs he learned were "Wine, Wine, Wine" and "Thunderbird" by a garage rock band from Dallas known as The Nightcaps. He played along to the records that his brother brought home, including the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. He purchased his first Lonnie Mack record The Wham of that Memphis Man in 1963. Vaughan later recalled one instance where he borrowed a friend's Shure Vocal Master PA system, placed microphones in front of the speakers, and turned the volume up.
Vaughan, who never desired formal guitar lessons or to read music, studied and played by ear. He favored records by other blues artists such as Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Howlin' Wolf, Albert Collins, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, Otis Rush, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Jimmy Reed. He was influenced by rock groups including The Rolling Stones, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, and The Yardbirds.  Stax recording artist Albert King, one of his favorites, was a significant influence on his style. He even saw King in a club, where the two met and shook hands.

At age twelve, Vaughan applied for an after-school job as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. It did not last long, when he fell into a barrel of grease after cleaning out a garbage bin. Vaughan recalls:
“ One of my jobs was to clean out this trash bin next to a grease vat. Well, I was standing on the cover of that thing and it caved in. I fell in it and someone almost poured hot grease all over me by accident—I could have been killed.

Well, I told the woman I was working for about it and she just started telling me about how much it was gonna cost me to pay for that lid. She wouldn't even let me use the office phone. I walked through the restaurant to the pay phone, twelve years old, covered with grease, called my mom to come get me and told her the whole story so everybody in the restaurant could hear it. People started leaving—it was great!”

Vaughan was an important figure in Texas blues, a loud, swing-driven fusion of blues and rock. He became the leading musician of the blues rock sound, with multiple network television appearances and charting albums. His debut Texas Flood, released in June 1983, became a double-platinum record. Vaughan encompassed multiple styles, including jazz and ballads. Nominated for 13 Grammys, he won four.  He won two Blues Music Awards and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.

Vaughan's first guitar was a toy from Sears with a Western motif, given to him for his seventh birthday. In 1963, he received his first electric guitar, which was a Gibson ES-125T, a hand-me-down from Jimmie Vaughan. He acquired a 1951 Fender Broadcaster called "Jimbo," a name in which his brother carved into the back of the guitar.He also bought his first maple-neck Fender Stratocaster in 1969.

In 1974, Vaughan acquired a battered 1963 Fender Stratocaster from Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas Music in Austin, which became his favorite guitar since, and gave the guitar names like "Number One" and "First Wife". As his career progressed, he played a variety of electric guitars, predominantly Fender Stratocasters. He also played the drum kit, though not often; his drumming can be heard on "Empty Arms" from the Soul to Soul album.

Vaughan has had only a single number one hit on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for the song "Crossfire". His album sales in the US stand at 11.5 million units. Family Style, released shortly after his death, won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. It became his best-selling, non-Double Trouble studio album at over a million shipments in the US. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked him seventh of the "100 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time". He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.

Although his professional career was soaring, Vaughan was sinking deep into alcoholism and drug addiction. Despite his declining health, Vaughan continued to push himself to the point of collapse in Germany in late September 1986. Almost three weeks of the European tour were cancelled while Vaughan successfully rehabilitated back in the States. The band released the double live album Live Alive in November of 1986 and launched an extensive American tour in support. Although the band’s touring schedule slackened slightly, Vaughan performed many concerts in 1988, including opening for the Robert Plant tour, a headlining gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a European tour and he still found time to record his fourth album. The resulting record, In Step, appeared in June of 1989, peaking at number 33 on the charts, earning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Recording, and going gold just over six months after its release.

In the spring of 1990 Stevie Ray recorded an album with his brother Jimmie, which was scheduled for release in the fall of the year. In the late summer of 1990, Vaughan and Double Trouble set out on an American headlining tour. On August 26, 1990, their East Troy, WI, gig concluded with an encore jam featuring guitarists Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Cray. After the concert, Stevie Ray boarded a helicopter bound for Chicago. Minutes after its 12:50 a.m. takeoff, the helicopter crashed, killing Vaughan and the other four passengers. He was only 35 years old.

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