From the beginning Stevie Ray Vaughan knew that he was destined to hold a guitar. On his seventh birthday1, he was given his first true instrument; a plastic, three-stringed toy guitar. As he graduated to more sophisticated equipment, Vaughan taught himself musicianship and technique, leaving little time for school in the midst of his rapidly accumulating gigs. Moving from band to band, he encountered any and all forms of drama, struggle and elation with both disaster and successful shows until the formation of the band Double Trouble in 19782.
Double Trouble didn’t receive instant success. Following one of their set’s songs, the crowd erupted into both applause and boos, leading Vaughan to desert the stage in shame.
“It wasn’t the whole crowd [that booed],” he said3. “It was just a few people sitting right up front. The room there was built for acoustic jazz. When five or six people boo, wow. It sounds like the whole world hates you. They thought we were too loud, but shoot, I had four army blankets folded over my amp, and the volume level was on 2. I’m used to playin’ on 10!”
Despite the road bumps, Double Trouble continued to rock in their characteristic southern blues style and began to gain national recognition. Their unique and captivating performances garnered the attention of many across the continent and their success skyrocketed after pumping out albums “Texas Flood,” “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” “Soul to Soul,” “Live Alive,” and a rocking performance at Carnegie Hall. We were lucky enough to experience the true electricity of Double Trouble when they took the Erwin Center stage on Nov. 26, 1989.
Vaughan’s sudden and tragic death in 1990 proved no match for the love his fans had developed for him and the legacy he left in his wake. The native Texan rocker’s legend would forever live on in his stylistic and musical influences that can now be seen in many well-known musicians today.
From the Hall of Fame itself, it is said that “the studio and live LPs released during the last seven years of his life etched Stevie Ray Vaughan into Stratocaster immortality and influenced the next generation of blues guitarists4.”
So if you’re finding yourself kicking back to John Mayer’s soft rock, Los Lonely Boys’ smooth melodies, or Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover,” consider saying thank you to the one who started it all and get Stevie Ray Vaughan one vote closer to the Hall of Fame.
Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.