"I don't think anyone has commanded my respect more, to this day.
The first time I heard Stevie Ray, I thought, 'Whoever this is is going to shake the world.' It's going to be a long time before anyone that brilliant will come along again."
"I didn't get to see or hear Stevie play near often enough, but every time I did I got chills and knew I was in the presence of greatness. He seemed to be an open channel and music just flowed through him. It never seemed to dry up."
I know nobody will ever forget him
The first time Stevie and I played together was in 1979 at the San Francisco Blues Festival. We did four or five dates together in the bay area and Santa Cruz, switching opening slots, and we became pretty good friends. We had barbeques together down in Santa Cruz. We went to pick him up one afternoon for a barbeque, and he was dressed up like Jimi Hendrix - had a Jimi Hendrix wig on and a little short kimono. We were just rowdy youngsters then; we were all between twenty and twenty-five. We'd always run across one another on the road here and there. There was always a big hug and "How ya doing?" and stuff like that. This past weekend, I hadn't seen him for a while, and he gave me a big hug.
Saturday [two days before the accident] was a great day. His brother, Jimmie, came down to the show. We were all taking photos, just clowning around. He was really happy.
I'll always remember how he kicked my ass all the time on the guitar. It was inspirational, you know?
John Lee Hooker
He really had it - his singing, his playing. Really hot stuff. He chopped it up, and really meant it.
The first time we met was in Austin, Texas at Antone's, and it was him and his brother, Jimmie. That was fifteen or twenty years ago, and at that time he could play tremendously. And I said, "Someday this kid's going to shake the whole world up." And he was one of the nicest people. You couldn't help but like him, you couldn't help but love him. I never cry, but yesterday, when I heard the news, I sat down on my bed and cried like a little baby.
"The most lasting memory of Stevie was his passion. I don't think there is anyone who tears into a song like the way he did. I think Stevie Ray was coming from some place so deep and so beautiful that there's no one you can compare to him."
I saw him play on Saturday night. He played unbelievably. To me Stevie Ray Vaughan was the greatest blues guitarist. For fire and passion and soulfulness, he was untouchable. He was scary to those of us who watched him. But he was so humble and gracious as a friend, and he wasn't stuck up about his playing.
I remember when he first came out, he was doing that Hendrix song [Voodoo Chile], and I heard all these people going, "Ah, he's just trying to do Hendrix." But he went a lot further than that. He was absolutely 100-proof, pure blues. Albert Collins, Muddy Waters - the essence of that was in everything he played. More than the Allman Brothers, he was straight-down-the-line blues. Stevie was always playing. After he'd get offstage, he'd get on his bus. And he had all these Stratocasters hanging there. He'd grab one and start goin'.
Any time we played together it was exciting. At first, he would always pull punches a bit. So one night I told him, "Play your thing. Go ahead, don't worry about me." And he did. His ideas were limitless. He flowed. He was like water, constantly drippin' with rhythm. It's a loss not just to the music - it's a loss to people as a whole. He was just such a nice man. I tell you the truth, it really hurts. The only thing that keeps me from crying is knowing the joy that he brought to us. I can see his smile right now, him sitting there with his Mexican hat on, going, "Hey, it's all right."
"...he was always quick to show gratitude to me and other artists who have been around. But when it came to playing the blues he earned plenty of respect himself."
"...the fact is that he affected the way blues will be played and heard forever."
"I've said that playing the blues is like having to be black twice. Stevie missed on both counts, but I never noticed."
If there's a difference between a musician and a performer, Stevie was a musician. He was interested in the purity of his sound. He thoroughly mastered the intricacies of his instrument, and he really knew how to make his guitar speak. But when we jammed, he wouldn't try and hog all the solos. He was a very generous player.
Lou Ann Barton
We first met in around 1975 when Jimmie saw me singing in Dallas and said, "I want you to be in my new band," which was the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Stevie was playing in a band called the Cobras, and after the Thunderbirds and I decided not to work together anymore, I asked Stevie if he wanted to do something with me. We put together a band called Triple Threat. When that band dissolved, we decided just to call it Double Trouble, because he and I were both featured. So that was the original Double Trouble. This is just too close to home - this is family. He and Jimmie couldn't be any closer to me than my own brothers. We've lived together for almost twenty years, lived in the same neighborhood and actually raised each other. We came up from the depths when we were getting fifty cents a night per head to play R&B, which nobody liked, and being white kids as well - he really worked hard to make his success possible. He was just so damned talented.
Nile Rodgers (Producer of 'Family Style' and 'Let's Dance')
There was one song on Family Style called "Brothers", and the basic concept was, I guess when Stevie and Jimmie were younger, there may have been just one guitar between them, or just one good guitar. So the way the record works is, they're switching off on the guitar. They insisted on doing it live, with Stevie actually taking the guitar out of Jimmie's hands and Jimmie taking the guitar out of Stevie's hands. And when we finished the first take - the one that appears on the album - Stevie pulled me aside while Jimmie wasn't looking. He says, "Nile, I know we thought of this... but I tell you, man, it hurts me to snatch the guitar out of my brother's hands, 'cause I love him so much." I just looked at him. I was really touched.
I remember when he came to the Power Station to do Let's Dance, he had this certain aura about him. He had this certain vibe. He and I hit it off right away. He picked up some of the guitars and started playing and making his comments. Then he noticed that we were eating barbeque. He says, "Nile, man, I know where the best barbeque in the world is." I said, "Yeah, where, Stevie?". He says, "A place called Sam's Barbeque, down in Texas." And he gets on the phone, and within a few hours there's a box of ribs on its way to New York. That's the kind of guy he was.
Another time, when I wasn't around, he was playing with some of my guitars, and he broke one of the strings. He wrote me the sweetest little note - it was just very Stevie Ray Vaughan. It said, - I'm doing his voice, you know, 'cause he's got this accent - it said, "Nile, I love your guitars. Sorry, brother, didn't mean to break no straaang."
As a guitar player, he had an incredible signature tone and an extreme intensity. He played one of the most difficult guitars to play - the Fender Stratocaster - and he played with really heavy strings. And he strung it with high action, which means you have to really work harder than anyone to try to get a sound out. But if you've got what it takes, then what comes out is something very big and bold and original.
In August of 1988, we opened two shows for him at the Pier in New York, and I got to really listen to him up close. You could tell he was always striving to find that magical point. He was good at reaching for the magic and finding it.
I think what I'll really remember is the way he stood, you know? Sweat-drenched, with his eyes closed, grabbing some incredible note. Someone has to be totally absorbed to play like that. To play that intensely sort of wreaks havoc on the body - it's sort of a painful ecstasy. He played the blues, you know? I guess I'll remember that most of all.
I first heard Stevie at a little club around the corner from Antone's. He was just a really good player. He had his own thing, but you could hear bits and pieces of other things. I could hear some of my things in there. His brother told me that Stevie listened to a lot of my old records. He particularly liked the lick on "Chicken Pickin'" and the riff on "Wham!".
As I got to know him better, it was easy to see that he had a really good spirit. Stevie was a giver, man - not only to his friends but to everybody. He was a very spiritual person. I used to tease him that he was the only guy I knew that had an old head on a young body.
He played his complete self through that guitar. And he knew that playing music wasn't about who sounded better than who else. It was the style that counted, and it was about having a good time.
[Stevie] was a friend of mine, partner - one of the best. I been knowing Stevie a long time, since he was a kid - him and Jimmie. I played with them so many times in Austin when Antone's had the first club on 6th and Brazos. I'll tell you the truth: That boy was something else, man. I feel like he was one of the greatest guys and guitar players who ever lived. And he was really just getting to do his thing. He bought a Rickenbacker for me about 10 or 12 years ago, but somebody stole it. Then he found the guitar somewhere in New York, years later. I was playing at Antone's, and here comes Stevie with the same guitar.
We jammed many times, and I had so much fun. I really miss him. He did some Jimi Hendrix, some Albert King, a little of me, but he had it together for what he wanted to do. He had a direction, and he made it work. The kids really liked his fire.
Stevie told me how his brother Jimmie had learned a bit before him, and he kept hearing this record of mine. His brother wouldn't let him listen to it, so he went and stole it. He said,'These are the licks I want.' We laughed about that the night of his tragedy. I'll never forget some of the licks he was playing the last night. I think it was one of his best nights ever.
It was an honor to have him do [my] tunes, because just like I went to Muddy Waters and paid tribute to him, everyone pays tribute to someone they admired a lot. Music is handed down to the next generation. And he wasn't just some white kid saying,'I got it.' He told the truth.'I got this from Buddy Guy or Albert Collins,' or whoever he wanted to talk about. That was some of his greatness. All of us have a certain God-gifted talent. Blues was locked out with a skeleton key, but Stevie was the type of person where they gave this guy the key, he opened the door, and threw the damn key away and said, 'All of y'all come in here. Let's play and show people how this sh** is supposed to be done.' He was like a brother to me. This year I won three W.C. Handy awards in Memphis, and I had to dedicate them to that kid, because that kid woke blues back up.