TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, THE STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STORY.

TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, THE STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STORY.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s career is a story of triumph and tragedy. He spent eleven years struggling to make a breakthrough. During that period, Stevie Ray Vaughan spent six years as a sideman. This was akin to a musical  apprenticeship for Stevie Ray Vaughan. Having  served his apprenticeship, Stevie Ray Vaughan headed out on his own in 1977.

Stevie Ray Vaughan formed Triple Threat Revue, who would  later, become Double Trouble. They announced their arrival with a barnstorming set at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival. This resulted in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble being signed to Epic.

Just over a year later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album Texas Flood in 1983. It went on to sell over two million copies, and was certified platinum. This was triumph in the story of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The tragedy came just seven years later.

On August 27th 1990, tragedy struck, when Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. The Texan blues man was just thirty-six, and had only enjoyed seven years in the spotlight. During that period, it seemed that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble could do no wrong. They had released albums sold over eight million albums. It was a far cry from when Stevie Ray Vaughan dropped out of high school, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and embarked upon life as a blues man.

College or university Stevie Ray Vaughan decided, wasn’t for him. He had known that for a while. Maybe longer than he realised? After all, Stevie Ray Vaughan had been playing the guitar most of his young life.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas on October 3rd 1954. After watching his brother Jimmie play his guitar, seven year old Stevie Ray Vaughan picked up a guitar for the first time. Soon, he was hooked, and was determined to master the guitar. 

By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan, he had mastered the guitar, and music became more important than getting an education. Eventually, he began to think of making a living out of music. After all, neither college nor university Stevie Ray Vaughan decided wasn’t for him. He had known that for a while. Instead, he wanted to play the blues. This many thought was just a pipe dream, a phase he was going through and eventually, Stevie would settle down. However, in 1971, Stevie Ray Vaughan dropped out of hight school and embarked upon a career as a blues man.  

Ever since Stevie Ray Vaughan dropped out of high school in 1971, he had been playing the blues. Having played in a series of bands, Stevie’s break came when he started playing with Marc Benno’s band The Nightcrawlers. After The Nighcrawlers, Stevie played with Danny Freeman in The Cobras. For Stevie, this was all part of his musical apprenticeship. Then in 1977, Stevie Ray Vaughan went from sideman to bandleader, when he formed Triple Threat Revue. 

Triple Threat Revue would later become Double Trouble. This came about, when Stevie Ray Vaughan brought onboard the rhythm section of drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. It was with Double Trouble at his side, that Stevie Ray Vaughan announced his arrival at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival.

That night, at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble announced their arrival. Stevie, playing vintage guitars, eschewed the use of effects. Effects were used sparingly during his performance. While Stevie turned his back on effects, he and Double Trouble liked to crank the sound up. To do this, they combined a series of amplifiers. This made the audience sit up and take notice. What they saw was a a blistering, virtuoso performance. By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble left the stage, at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival their star was in the ascendancy.

Eleven months later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album Texas Flood on Epic. It sold over two million copies, and was certified double platinum. This was the start of the rise and rise, of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Texas Flood.

Before they signed to Epic, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble headed to Jackson Browne’s recording studio in Los Angeles. Between 22nd to 24th November 1982, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded ten tracks that would become their debut album, Texas Flood. 

At Jackson Browne’s recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble hooked up with engineer Richard Mullen. He would co-produced Texas Flood with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Texas Flood featured ten tracks. Five were penned by Stevie, who also cowrote Dirty Pool with drummer Doyle Bramhall. Along with covers of Howlin’ Wolf’s Tell Me and Buddy Guy’s Mary Had a Little Lamb, these tracks became eventually become Texas Flood. 

On the first of the three days at Jackson Browne’s recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble spent setting up their equipment. The next two days, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded what would become Texas Flood. Now all Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble needed, was a label to release Texas Flood.

In early 1983, Epic signed Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Epic having heard the master tapes of Texas Flood, decided it needed remastered. So, a $65,000 advance was given to remaster the recordings. The advance also allowed Stevie to lay down his vocals at Riverside Sound in Austin, Texas. Then on June 13th 1983, Texas Flood was released.

When Texas Flood was released, it was mostly, well received by critics. No wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan was easily, one of music’s most exciting guitarists. However, Rolling Stone magazine and Robert Christgau, forever the contrarians, weren’t won over by Texas Flood. This didn’t affect sales of Texas Flood, which reached number thirty-eight in the US Billboard 200. Having sold two million copies, Texas Flood was certified double platinumin America and Canada. Following the success of Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble headed out on a gruelling tour.

On 20th July 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble found themselves in Toronto. That night, they played at The El Mocambo. The concert was broadcast live, with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, billed as a A Legend In The Making. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble made their way through eight tracks. They were a mixture of original tracks and cover versions. Tracks from Texas Flood and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s sophomore album Couldn’t Stand the Weather, sat side-by-side. These eight tracks were a tantalising taste of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live. Following the concert at The El Mocambo, the tour continued, before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to the studio in January 1984. 

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Couldn’t Stand the Weather.

Just like Texas Flood, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s sophomore album Stevie penned half the tracks. He wrote four of the eight tracks. The other four tracks were cover versions, including a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return). These eight tracks were recorded at The Power Station, New York.

Over nineteen days at The Power Station, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded Couldn’t Stand the Weather. Producing Couldn’t Stand the Weather, were Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Richard Mullen and Jim Capter. From the minute Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble laid down their cover of Tin Pan Alley, it was obvious to those in the control room that, here was a band at the top of their game.

That proved to be the case. On the release of Couldn’t Stand the Weather, on 15th May 1984, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s fusion of blues rock, electric blues and Texas rock, won friends and influenced people. This included the programmers at MTV. They put the video for Couldn’t Stand the Weather on heavy rotation. For Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble this meant their music reached a much wider audience.

Then when critics heard Couldn’t Stand the Weather, it received widespread critical acclaim. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were now being hailed as the saviour of the blues. It had fallen out of fashion long ago. The problem was, the blues hadn’t evolved since the advent of the electric guitar. As a result, the blues was on life-support and close to breathing its last. Then came Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, a blue group who were on MTV. This was as game-changer.

Especially when Couldn’t Stand the Weather was released on May 15th 1984, and  reached number thirty-one on the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in Couldn’t Stand the Weather being certified double platinum in America and platinum in Canada. It seemed that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble could do no wrong. 

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Soul To Soul.

In March 1985, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to the studio. This time, they headed to the Dallas Sound Lab.  Between March and May 1985, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded  the ten tracks that became Soul To Soul. 

For Soul To Soul, Stevie only penned four of the ten tracks. They were Only Say What, Ain’t Gone ‘N’ Give Up On Love, Empty Arms and Life Without You. Drummer Doyle Bramhall contributed Lookin’ Out the Window and Change It. The other tracks were cover versions, including Willie Dixon’s You’ll Be Mine and Earl King’s Come On. Just like Texas Flood, Soul To Soul was co-produced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and Richard Mullen. Soul To Soul would be released on September 30th 1985. However, before that, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble made a triumphant return to where it all began, the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Three years after making their breakthrough at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to where it all began. They played a storming ten song set. That night, just like three years earlier, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had the audience enthralled. Here was the most exciting blues band in the world. Since their Montreux debut, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold four million albums in America alone. Before long, four would become five.

On the release of Soul To Soul, it was well received by critics. Soul To Soul received the same critical acclaim as their two previous albums. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were regarded as the most exciting blues band in the world. They were also one of the most successful.

Change It, one of two singles released from Soul To Soul, found flavour with MTV programmers. It reached number seventeen on the US Rock charts.  Despite this, Soul To Soul wasn’t as big a commercial success as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two previous albums. 

Soul To Soul was released on September 30th 1985. However, the album reached number thirty-four in the US Billboard 200 charts, and was certified platinum. In Canada, where Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two previous albums were certified platinum, Soul To Soul was only certified gold. This was a troubling time for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

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Live Alive.

After the release of Soul To Soul, it would be four years before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released another album. During this period, Stevie’s appetite for drink and drugs couldn’t be sated. After breakfast, Stevie would begin his daily diet of a quart of whiskey and a quarter ounce of cocaine. This was Stevie’s daily diet. It would’ve killed most people. Not Stevie. He continued to record and play live. One of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live performances was released in July 1986, as Live Alive.

Live Alive was a double album recorded during 1985 and 1986s Live Alive tour. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble swagger their way through fourteen tracks on Live Alive. Despite his chaotic lifestyle, Stevie was still one of the best blues guitarists of his generation. Backed by the tightest of rhythm sections, Stevie unleashes a series of blistering performances. Whether it’s original songs or cover versions, they come alive in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s hands. As a result, critics and record buyers were won over by Live Alive.

Most critics gave Live Alive positive reviews. A few critics disagreed. However, that’s not surprising. Live albums always divide the opinion or critics. Not record buyers. When Live and Alive was released in July 1986, it reached number fifty-two in the US Billboard 200 charts. Although this was the lowest chart placing of any Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album, Live Alive was certified platinum in America and Canada.  This would be the last album Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble would release for three years.

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In Step.

By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned with their fourth album, In Step, Stevie was a changed man. Gone was the hard living, wild man, with the insatiable appetite for drink and drugs. This was reflected in some of the songs on In Step.

For In Step, Stevie only wrote two tracks, Travis Walk and Riviera Paradise. However, Stevie cowrote four tracks with Doyle Bramhall. This included Wall of Denial and Tightrope, which reflect Stevie’s newfound sobriety. Along with covers of Willie Dixon’s Let Me Love You Baby, Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone and Howlin’ Wolf’s Love Me Darlin,’ these songs became In Step.

Recording of In Step began on January 25th 1989 and lasted right through to March 13th 1989. Further sessions took place at Kiva Sudios, Memphis, and then in Los Angeles at Sound Castle and Summa Studios, where Double Trouble and Jim Gaines co-produced In Step. Once In Step was finished, it was released on June 6th 1989.

When In Step was released on June 6th 1989, the album was well received by critics. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s  fused of blues, rock and soul  on In Step, which was perceived as an incredibly honest, personal and autobiographical album. This appealed to record buyers. 

On In Step’s release, it reached number thirty-three in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in In Step being certified double platinum in America, and platinum in Canada.  Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were the most successful blues bands of the eighties,

Since 1983s Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold eight million albums. Sadly, In Step was the final Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album released during Stevie’s lifetime.

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Tragedy struck for Stevie Ray Vaughan on August 26th 1990. After playing two shows with Eric Clapton at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, in East Troy, Wisconsin, some  of the musicians were due to fly to Chicago. This included Stevie Ray Vaughan. He made his way to one of the four helicopters waiting on a nearby golf course. However, there was a problem.

Witnesses report that that night, the skies weren’t clear. Instead, there was fog, haze and low cloud. This was far from ideal flying conditions. Despite this, the helicopters took off. Joining Stevie Ray Vaughan in the third helicopter, were three of Eric Clapton’s entourage. Once the passengers and crew were ready, the Bell 206A JetRanger helicopter took off, en route for the Merge Field, in the Windy City at 12.50 a.m. 

As the helicopter made its way from East Troy, Wisconsin to Merge Field, Chicago, the pilots were instructed to fly over a 1000-foot ski hill. Given the inclement weather conditions, this seemed a strange route. It had disastrous consequences.

By the time the helicopter took off from, it was now the 27th August 1990. As the helicopter climbed high into the night sky, it suddenly, veered to the left and crashed into the ski hill. It was later discovered that the helicopter crashed just fifty feet from the summit. For everybody on board it had been a case of so close, yet so far. 

At 4.30 a.m, the Civil Air Patrol were told about the incident. It took them three hours to locate the crash site. When they did, they were able to ascertain that there were no survivors. That day, music lost one of its most talented and charismatic sons, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The Texan blues man was only thirty-five. Stevie Ray Vaughan had only released four studio albums and one live album. However, these albums sold over eight million copies, making Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble the most successful blues bands of the eighties.  

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble almost single handedly, revived interest in blues music. Suddenly, there was a resurgence in interest in what was an almost a moribund musical genre. Not any more. Throughout the eighties, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s unique brand of blues rock reached a new, and much wider audience. Playing an important part in the rise and rise of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble was MTV. 

A number of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s tracks were on heavy rotation on MTV. Suddenly, a new generation had been introduced to the blues by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. They were their gateway to a whole wider body of work. However, tragically, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s amounts to just the five albums released during Stevie Ray Vaughan’s lifetime. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s swan-song was In Step, which was released on June 6th 1989, some twenty-seven years ago. However, still, a new generation of  musicians cite Stevie Ray Vaughan as an influence. No wonder; he was one of the greatest blues guitarists of his generation. Sadly, Stevie Ray Vaughan was only in the spotlight for seven years.

During the seven years that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s star was in the ascendancy, they released four studio albums and one live album. Their swan-song was In Step, which was released in 1989. By then, Stevie had turned his life around. No longer was he living the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was a changed man. Gone was the hard living, wild man, with the insatiable appetite for drink and drugs. The change in Stevie Ray Vaughan was reflected on In Step’s lyrics. It introduced the listener to a new, changed Stevie Ray Vaughan. They liked what they heard, and In Step reached number thirty-three in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in In Step being certified double platinum in America, and platinum in Canada. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble looked like becoming one of the biggest bands of the nineties. They had already sold over eight million copies between 1982 and 1989.

Sadly, that never happened. On August 27th 1990 Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. He was only thirty-five years old. That day music lost one of its most charismatic and talented sons, Stevie Ray Vaughan. His life is one of triumph and ultimately tragedy, but one that will never be forgotten.

TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, THE STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN STORY.

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