Video from his jaw-dropping phenomenal performance at Shiba Yubinchukin Hall, Tokyo, Japan,24 Jan. 1985.
One of his greatest live performances on film! Intense performance of "Texas Flood."
Stevie Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990)
HE PERFORMED AS HE ALWAYS HAD, as if the song of the moment would be his last. During the blistering, 20-minute rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago" that closed the show at the Alpine Valley Music Theater near East Troy, Wisconsin, guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was onstage with fellow bluesmen Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Vaughan's older brother, Jimmie. Said Guy later: "It was one of the most incredible sets I ever heard Stevie play. I had goose bumps."
Shortly afterward, at 12:15 A.M. on Aug. 27, the exhilarated musicians left the stage through a rear exit. Vaughan, 35, had planned to make the two-hour drive back to his Chicago hotel with his brother and sister-in-law, Connie, but at the last minute he chose to board a Bell 206B Jet Ranger, one of four helicopters waiting nearby. According to his New York City publicist, Charles Comer, Vaughan had learned from Clapton's manager that there were seats enough to accommodate all three in his party. When he found only one place was actually available, Vaughan said to Connie and Jimmie, "Do you mind if I take the seat? I really need to get back."
The helicopter took off in fog around 12:40 A.M. with Vaughan and four others aboard. Sweet Chicago would never be reached. Moments later the chopper's remains lay spread across more than 200 feet of a man-made ski slope in a field dotted with bittersweet and Queen Anne's lace. All on board were killed instantly in what National Transportation Safety Board investigator William Bruce later described as "a high-energy, high-velocity impact at a shallow angle."
Fans leaving the noisy concert site did not hear the crash, which occurred on the far side of the nearby hill. In fact a search for the lost copter wasn't begun until 5 A.M. -- more than four hours later -- after an orbiting search-and-rescue satellite picked up the craft's emergency-locator transmitter signal. At 7 A.M. searchers found the bodies of Vaughan; Bobby Brooks, Clapton's Hollywood agent; pilot Jeff Brown (who may have been unfamiliar with the hilly site's tricky take-off procedures); Clapton's assistant tour manager, Colin Smythe; and Clapton's bodyguard, Nigel Browne. Later that morning Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan were summoned by the Walworth County coroner to identify the bodies.
On August 31, 1990, funeral services were held for Vaughan in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas.
The crash stilled the music of a man that many had considered on the lip of true stardom. Vaughan's last album, In Step, had gone gold and won a Grammy, and a new LP had already been recorded for release later this month. The latter, titled Family Style, was a pet project of Vaughan and brother Jimmie, 38, who had quit his job as lead guitarist with the Fabulous Thunderbirds to work on the LP.
A promising guitar player by the time he was 8, Stevie Ray grew up in Dallas, the son of an asbestos plant worker and a secretary at a ready-mix cement factory. He abandoned high school at 17 and, with his brother, began haunting the all-night blues clubs of Austin, where his trademark bandito hat, tar-paper voice and potent playing became as familiar as the clubs' watered-down drinks. A videotape of one performance, sent to Mick Jagger, led to a New York City nightclub appearance at Jagger's request, but it was Vaughan's stunning set at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival that brought him both a record contract and the wider recognition he deserved.
MONTREUX 1982 – THE TURNING POINT:
Stevie and his band Double Trouble were asked by legendary Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler to play "Blues Night" at the annual Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Playing like his life depended on it, Stevie put on a fiery performance - full of future SRV classics like "Pride And Joy" and "Love Struck Baby." The audience could not have cared less. Every song Stevie played was greeted by an increasing wave of boos and hisses and he left the stage bewildered and heart-broken.
As fate would have it, this would be the most important single show Stevie ever played. In the audience that night were two figures who would prove instrumental in Stevie's subsequent rise to stardom: David Bowie and Jackson Browne. They recognized Stevie's raw talent and limitless passion. As a result, Jackson Browne offered Stevie the opportunity to record (free of charge) at his own studio--the tapes that would be Texas Flood--Stevie's first studio album for Epic Records. In addition, Stevie was asked to play on Bowie's hugely successful Let's Dance album and tour (he did not tour with Bowie however).
Three years later, when Stevie was invited back to headline "Blues Night" at the festival, the crowd, now familiar with Stevie's songs and albums treated him like the conquering hero. And Stevie again played like his life depended on it - because, as we all came to recognize and respect, that was the only way he knew how.
Vaughan had been plagued for years by severe alcohol and drug dependency, and he chronicled his successful struggle to kick the twin sins with his album In Step. "He just went straight in the last four years," says a friend. "Since then he wouldn't even drink tea with caffeine. It's such a shame. He was such a sweet man."
Five albums, countless tours and guest appearances -- live and in the studio -- with a pantheon of blues and rock performers like B.B. King and David Bowie had established Stevie as one of the reigning kings of his genre. "He did a lot for us blues players, keeping the blues happening," says guitarist Albert Collins, who remembers seeing Vaughan play in Austin's bars when the latter was still a teenager. "He was attractive to younger kids, and he always had this fire in him. He made the blues a young and old thing to listen to." Grammy-winning blues singer Koko Taylor echoes Collins's view. "People didn't pay attention to the blues," says Taylor. "Vaughan was one of the musicians who changed that."
His death is a sad new addition to a series of similar air-crash tragedies that over the years have claimed such stars as Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Jim Croce, Rick Nelson and others. But to Vaughan's friends and fans, the latest loss is far more than a sad statistic.
Texas Flood (1983)
Couldn't Stand the Weather (1984)
Soul to Soul (1985)
In Step (1989)
Family Style (1990) (with brother Jimmie Vaughan as The Vaughan Brothers)
In Session (1999) (recorded with Albert King on December 3, 1983)
Live Alive (1986, recorded July 15, 1985 and July 17–19, 1986)
In the Beginning (1992, recorded April 1, 1980)
Live at Carnegie Hall (1997, recorded October 4, 1984)
Live at Montreux 1982 and 1985 (2001, recorded July 17, 1982 and July 15, 1985)
Live In Tokyo (2006, recorded January 24, 1985)
The Sky Is Crying (1991)
Greatest Hits (1995)
The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 2 (1999)
Blues at Sunrise (2000)
SRV (2000) (box set, with early recordings, rarities, hits, and live material)
The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (2002)
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues – Stevie Ray Vaughan (2003)
The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 1 (2006)
Solos, Sessions and Encores (2007)