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Stevie Ray Vaughan Biography

Home > Music > V > Vaughan, Stevie Ray > Biography

Birth Name: Stephen Ray Vaughan
Born: 1954/10/03
Birth Place: Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died: 1990/08/27
Years Active: 1970–1990
Genres: Blues, Rock, Jazz

Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. After a few years as a sideman in and around Austin, Texas, Vaughan formed the band Double Trouble, with whom he made four successful studio albums and established a reputation as one of the foremost blues guitarists in the world.

In late 1974, he joined the popular Austin band Paul Ray & The Cobras. In 1977, Vaughan left The Cobras and formed Triple Threat Revue with Lou Ann Barton on vocals, W.C. Clark on bass, Mike Kindred on keyboards, and Fredde Pharaoh on drums. Saxophone player Johnny Reno and bassist Jackie Newhouse joined Vaughan and Pharaoh to form Double Trouble, taking their name from the Otis Rush song "Double Trouble". Chris "Whipper" Layton later replaced Pharaoh on drums.

Double Trouble recorded a performance at The Steamboat 1974 in Austin, later released as “In The Beginning” in 1992.

Musician Jackson Browne gave the band three days of use at his own studio in Los Angeles, and the band recorded an album's worth of material in the fall of 1982. The sessions from Browne's studio resulted in the band's debut album, “Texas Flood,” which was released in June 1983. It featured two singles, "Pride and Joy" and "Love Struck Baby." "Pride and Joy" peaked at #20 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. "Texas Flood" was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Performance and "Rude Mood" was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The album peaked at #38 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart after its release and went double-platinum in the U.S.

David Bowie hired Stevie to play on his album “Let's Dance,” released in 1983. The album was a hit, and gained Vaughan widespread attention for his impressive guitar work. In the spring of 1983, Vaughan opted out of Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour during the rehearsals to focus on Double Trouble.

The band's second album, “Couldn't Stand the Weather,” was released in May 1984 and went to #31 on the Billboard 200 chart. A cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" was included on the album and became a concert favorite.

“Soul to Soul,” their third studio album, was released in September 1985, featuring new band member Reese Wynans on keyboards. It peaked at #34 on the Billboard 200.

In July 1986, the band recorded shows in Austin and Dallas for their first live album, “Live Alive,” released in November 1986. The song selection for “Live Alive” displays many of SRV's biggest influences, with versions of Jimi Hendrix’s "Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Stevie Wonder’s "Superstition,” Howlin' Wolf’s "Commit a Crime” and Buddy Guy’s "Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Their fourth album, “In Step,” was released in June 1989 and won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Record. It reached #33 on the on the Billboard 200 char. It’s single “Crossfire” reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

In March 1990 he paired with his brother Jimmie to record the album, “Family Style.” Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash in East Troy, Wisconsin, on August 27, 1990. Earlier that evening, Vaughan had played with Double Trouble at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, featured as a special guest with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Jimmie Vaughan. “Family Style” was posthumously released in September 1990.

Released about one year after Vaughan's death in 1990, “The Sky Is Crying” featured ten studio tracks originally recorded between 1984 and 1989. The album peaked at #7, the highest position of his career and was certified platinum. The album includes a Grammy-winning extended instrumental cover version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" as well as the jazz instrumental "Chitlins con Carne" and "Life by the Drop," a song written by Vaughan's friend Doyle Bramhall and played on acoustic guitar.

A live recording made in 1983 featuring Vaughan performing live with Albert King was released as an album in 1999. The album's material is mostly King's concert line up, with one Stevie Ray Vaughan cut, "Pride and Joy." King is 'driving' the session, but he purposefully features Vaughan on a number of the songs.

Several additional greatest hits and live recordings have been released since his untimely death. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.