Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Whenever the late fiery blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan performed, even the masters bowed. "I got chills," Eric Clapton once said of hearing Vaughan play. "I knew I was in the presence of greatness." Others compared him to Jimi Hendrix. So it was in a spirit of reverence that Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Vaughan's older brother Jimmie gathered at a May 11, 1995, concert in Austin, Texas, to pay tribute to perhaps the greatest blues axman of his generation. Many of these same musicians had shared a concert stage with Stevie Ray on Aug. 26, 990, at the Alpine Valley Music Theater near East Troy, Wis., for another blistering set. It ended less than an hour before Vaughan, 35, boarded a Chicago-bound helicopter that crashed shortly after takeoff, killing him and four others.
For one night last year, memories and music of Stevie Ray both flowed freely. "It was kind of like a reunion," says brother Jimmie Vaughan, 45, of the concert, which was recorded for a recently released live album, A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan (Epic). Jimmie, a former member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds who has toured with Clapton and cowrote a soundtrack song for Kevin Costner's new film Tin Cup, says he was floored by the response from his brother's admirers. "The respect they showed for Stevie—and for each other—was just great."
How did you feel onstage during the tribute concert?
Do you know the feeling you get in your eyes right before you're fixin' to cry? It was somewhere between that and bursting out laughing! It was like Stevie was watching this thing and he was liking it. When I would go to sing a song, I wasn't sure what was going to come out, 'cause you have that choked up feeling. It was very emotional.
Did you influence Stevie growing up?
He was a little kid when I started playing guitar. Once I broke my arm playing football, and I came home with this cast on. I said, "Don't mess with my guitar!" Then I would leave, and he would secretly pick up the guitar and learn those songs. I sort of blazed the trail, and then I ran away from home at 15. When I saw him a couple of years later, he was really a good player.
Why is his blues legacy so large?
He had this thing, and when he played, people knew it. People got something extra special out of it. As a person, he was always kind, understanding and fair. That's the way I remember him.
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