20th Anniversary of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Tragic Death
Posted by Michael Mueller on August 26, 2010 at 7:05 PM
Twenty years ago tonight (8/26/1990), guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan played his final show, opening for Eric Clapton on a bill that also included the Robert Cray Band, at a sold-out Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin. The evening also featured an encore jam on "Sweet Home Chicago" with Clapton, Vaughan, and Cray along with guests Buddy Guy and SRV's big brother Jimmie Vaughan. Later that night (actually, early the next morning), the helicopter Vaughan was traveling in crashed behind the venue, killing all on board. Vaughan was 35 years old.
It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed, perhaps because Stevie's music is timeless. Indeed, songs like "Pride and Joy," "The House Is Rockin'," and "Love Struck Baby" have become blues standards, and his covers of songs like "Texas Flood," "Cold Shot," and "The Sky Is Crying" are so definitive it's a challenge to recall the originals.
As an electric blues guitarist, Vaughan's technical command of his instrument surpassed all those who came before him and has yet to meet its match. His guitar tone, even when every young blues axe-slinger in the world was putting on heavy strings and popping a Tube Screamer in front of a cranked Deluxe Reverb, was signature and one of the most identifiable electric guitar sounds in history.
And while we can only wonder what more Stevie might have achieved if not for that tragic helicopter accident early in foggy morning of August 27, 1990, we take solace in the musical legacy he blazed, and we drink in the healing tears of the heavens, as somewhere tonight, the sky is crying.
Here's a recording of "Pride and Joy" from that fateful night. We miss you, Stevie!