A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan - An Up Close Extra

Air Date: August 15 - August 25, 1991
Transcription by JTranscription by Bill Seymour bseymour@hcf.tdh.state.tx.us

There is no doubt that Stevie Ray Vaughan made a huge impact on music history, especially in the areas of blues and rock. Thankfully, we have things like the transcript below to preserve his legacy and teach younger generations about his life and music. Someday, maybe even the academic world will acknowledge him as a master and students will buy or rent books to uncover SRV's story. Read on and the transcript will give you some insight into who Stevie Ray Vaughan was and why we should remember him.

Dan Neer: In 1983, the airwaves of the nation were full of the sounds of Men At Work, Toto, The Police, Eurythmics, and most of all...Michael Jackson. But...there was a sound coming on from deep in the heart of Texas. An inkling of what was to come could be heard in the guitar work on David Bowie's "Let's Dance" album. That straight-shooting guitar-slinging Texan was Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Stevie Ray Vaughan: I guess the world needs to change to keep going, but...there's some things that just sound right on the radio to me.

DN: And one of the things that sounds radio-right is the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Hi I'm Dan Neer. On August 27, 1990, a tragic helicopter crash claimed the life of this amazingly talented player. We all miss the treasure that was the person of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but he left us a wealth of delightful music that lives on. This is a celebration of that music. Media America Radio presents...a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Pride and Joy

DN: "Pride and Joy" from "Texas Flood", the debut release from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. In 1983, Double Trouble was bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton behind the gut-wringing singing and string-stretching guitar of Stevie Ray Vaughan. A few years earlier, say circa 1963, Stevie's playing was limited to what he could pick up from his older brother Jimmie, who made his mark as the guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Here's Jimmie:

Jimmie Vaughan: I taught him...I mean I started playing first. I'm like three years older than him, so I got a guitar and started playing blues and bringing blues records home. As I would learn things, he would be sitting there...and I'd say "Don't...don't touch my guitar. Don't even think about it"

DN: Stevie Ray Vaughan...

SRV: He definitely got me started, and then uh, somewhere along the line showed me that I'm supposed to learn myself. (Laughs) You know? And uh...I'm glad he did. He's probably my biggest influence for many reasons. Mainly because when he first started I watched him...you know? I watched him a lot. It just seemed so easy for him to learn and pick up what he picked up, that it just didn't seem like it could be hard.

Mary Had A Little Lamb

DN: "Mary Had A Little Lamb", a Buddy Guy cover from "Texas Flood". Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan showed a lot of promise from the very beginning. That the promise was fulfilled has a lot to do with the nurturing that came from their parents. Here's Stevie Ray...

SRV: Most of the time they were very supportive. There was a short period of time when, see Jimmie left home when he was 15 to go play on the road, and uh...here I was 12 and...doing gigs. (laughs) And they're going "Uh-oh...here he goes too, ya know?" And so it got kind of rough there for a little bit. Cause they didn't really want me to be taking off at 13, ya know? (laughs) So it was a little bit strenuous there for a while, but for the most part they've been very supportive.


DN: "Testify". Possibly the biggest break in Stevie Ray Vaughan's career came when he was booked to play the Montreaux Jazz Festival in the summer of 1982.

SRV: There was actually 2 nights that we were at Montreaux. The first we played on the big stage. We got a mixed reaction. The place was actually built for acoustic jazz, and here we come in there with Fender amps and everything and I ended up having to cover it up with blankets and everything. But it was still loud by comparison. But we had had several people in the audience, come to find out they were all sitting together right in front, that were booing us. But in that room it sounded like a lot more people booing, ya know? Especially when you're nervous, you know? (laughs) But David Bowie had seen us that night as well. Several other people had come back and given us a lot of encouragement and they had seen the mixed reaction as a good thing. David Bowie he was thinking about putting together some sort of a TV show kind of deal, and uh...that didn't come about, but that was where he got the idea for me to play guitar on his album.

DN: That was Bowie's Let's Dance LP.

Let's Dance

DN: Here's David...

David Bowie: Well, the reason it has such an obvious R&B drive I think is that at the time of the Labyrinth movie when I had to go to the South Pacific, I had to decide on the kinds of tapes that I would take with me to play during those times when we weren't filming. Uhm...and I naturally seemed to go for the old R&B influences that I was listening to when I was a teenager.

DN: Stevie Ray Vaughan was a natural selection to play guitar on the album. Check out the title track, "China Girl" and "Criminal World" for example. But meanwhile back at Montreaux...

SRV: We were the first band to ever play that festival without a record out. Several people took a chance on us, and I'm glad they did, you know? Needless to say.

Couldn't Stand the Weather

DN: "Couldn't Stand the Weather", the 1984 title track from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's second record. By the time that album was released, Stevie had already been playing guitar for around twenty years. His commitment to the blues was firmly established.

SRV: I just hope that the music is taken seriously, you know? I mean that doesn't mean that it can't be fun, but...it doesn't mean that it should just be skimmed over and called the blues because it's got three chords and it's in so-and-so key, and it's this speed, you know? There's too many things going on in life that are hard to deal with or hard to look at. That's what the blues is about, it's about as far as I can tell it's the old way to tell somebody what's going on, and by doing that either whoever's listening to it can relate to what you're saying, because it's the same thing that's happening to them, and as a result they feel better, or it's worse than what they've gone through, so they go "Whew.." and feel better, or it's not quite as bad, and they can go "Well, this is worse...", ya know? "At least somebody understands", and feel better.

Cold Shot

DN: "Cold Shot" from Couldn't Stand the Weather. We'll hear Stevie Ray Vaughan's tribute to Jimi Hendrix when this tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan returns.

[Cut to Commercial]

Scuttle Buttin

DN: "Scuttle Buttin" from Couldn't Stand the Weather. Any similarity you hear in "Scuttle Buttin" to the play of Jimi Hendrix is only natural.

background "Red House" - Jimi Hendrix

DN: Here's Stevie Ray...

SRV: I just thought he was the greatest thing I'd ever seen, you know? I never got to see him live but I was influenced by his music, his style, his attitude,...uh, what he was looking for, or at least my interpretation of what he was looking for, which was growing from the inside out. He just kind of ripped it wide open, and where his ideas came from I don't really know. He just seemed to be able to uh....he played the whole instrument. It wasn't just notes anymore, and he didn't necessarily stick to making the guitar have anything to do with the guitar with the way he played it, you know? In a very melodic way, and musical way, he seemed to ignore frets and things like that, you know? (laughs) And uh...it just turned it into something else. And it was like he played the whole thing, you know? I try to make noises here and there and sometimes they come out, but the best ones just come out, you know? It seems like he was kinda in tap with that, you know? He knew what he wanted to hear, and somehow he knew how to get that as he went.

DN: Stevie Ray also knew how to get the sounds that he heard in his head to come streaming out of his Stratocaster. This is his version of the Hendrix classic "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)".

Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

DN: "Voodoo Chile, (Slight Return)" from Couldn't Stand the Weather. Stevie Ray's "Voodoo Chile" is a very convincing version of the Hendrix song.

SRV: Some of the distance that people put between playing music and playing Hendrix's music is kind of strange to me. You know, why isn't it just as accessible as Chuck Berry, or B.B. King, or Albert King, or Bo Diddley? Granted it's hard to play laughs) and there's a lot to it. You know, there's a lot to understanding what he's doing, and I don't even begin to know how he did some of the things he did. But, that doesn't mean I shouldn't try.

DN: Stevie Ray tried on songs by a number of great guitarists and singers, Jimmy Reed, Guitar Slim, Stevie Wonder, Howlin' Wolf, and Buddy Guy were all "Vaughan-icized" at one time or another. Listen to how Stevie Ray and his band put their mark on Hank Ballard's "Little Sister".

Look At Little Sister

DN: "Look At Little Sister" from Soul To Soul. By this time, Double Trouble included keyboardist Reese Wynans. The band's bold name actually toned down a brag from Stevie Ray's previous band. But let's let him tell the story.

SRV: Actually, what happened...there's two sides of it actually. It's not two different stories it's just two different things that went together. Myself, Lou Ann Barton, Mike Kindred, W.C. Clark, Freddie Pharaoh, and Johnny Reno were in a band called Triple Threat Revue, which was another nickname that I'd gotten sitting in at a little barbecue place outside of Austin called Alexander's. It was a gas station, barbecue, and beer and dancing, bands-on-the-weekends place. I'd been taking turns...whatever came to mind, playing drums, singing, playing guitar, playing bass whatever, and somebody started calling me "triple threat". And uh, I left a band that I was with called the Cobras, and started this band Triple Threat Revue because...we looked at it as a revue because there were actually five different people in the band doing vocals, doing their little sections of the thing...of the show. So it was like a revue. That band...of course we had too many leaders...it went off into a bunch of different bands. Lou Ann and I stayed together and the obvious thing to do was to call it instead of Triple Threat Revue, call it Double Trouble, because we were both trouble and there was just two of us. (laughs) And at the same time, my favorite song was "Double Trouble" by Otis Rush. Man...it just made sense.

DN: Here's Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble making sense with "Willie The Wimp".

Willie The Wimp

DN: "Willie The Wimp" from Live Alive. That song was recorded at the Austin Opera House on July 7th, 1986. It features a special guest appearance by Jimmie Vaughan. We'll be hearing more music from Stevie Ray and from Jimmie when this celebration of the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan continues.

[Cut To Commercial]

DN: Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble knew what they wanted to sound like, and how to get there. Here's Stevie Ray.

SRV: As a rule, this band...and I'm proud to be in this band because of this...we do only songs that we really like. And that way we can put it all into it, and really care about what we're doing. If we don't like it, we won't do it. And if we don't like how it sounds, we'll stop doing it until we find out what to do about it.


DN: "Superstition", the Stevie Wonder composition as performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble on Live Alive. Stevie Ray shows once again that he had no problem putting his stamp on a song written by someone outside the band. Likewise his own material was brilliantly interpreted in his hands. Then you have a tune like "Crossfire".

SRV: It's a great song. When I say that I don't mean to sound...I don't mean that as egotistical as I might sound. I didn't write the song, but he did. (laughs)

DN: "He" is drummer Chris Layton.

CL: Yeah, I helped write it, you know. I guess it was uhm...myself, Tommy Shannon the bass player, and Reese Wynans the keyboard player, and a songwriting team in Austin...Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth, wrote the song. So basically we wrote the music, and they kinda...they had to write the lyrics. That's kind of how it worked out. We had just gotten together, Stevie was unable to be there at that time. He was up in Dallas doing some things, and we just got together and started writing some songs. That was the first one we wrote, which was kind of neat that it made it on the record, you know.


DN: We just heard a rare live version of "Crossfire" recorded in Austin, Texas in October of 1989. That's from a promo-only compact disc. "Crossfire" was first recorded on In Step. We'll have more from that album next, on this tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan.

[Cut to commercial]

You Better Leave My Girl Alone

DN: Stevie Ray Vaughan's tragic and untimely death came just a little more than a year after his last studio album with Double Trouble. That album was called In Step. Here's Stevie Ray and Chris Layton...

SRV: I'd say uh...it's probably our best effort yet. I like the record the fact that we seemed to be more in tune with each other, with what we're doing. It's a better time for us collectively and individually. We've all gotten to come out more in the record, as a band and individually, and uh...I really feel good about the record.

CL: Yeah, that's true...we kind of had a...an idea of what was really going on, you know, cause we could kind of see everything and hear everything real good...put it all together and kind of....We had our whole heart and soul and our mind and our bodies all kind of in the same place.


DN: "Tightrope" from In Step. In order to record that album, Stevie Ray and Double Trouble had to overcome a very difficult technical problem. Here's Stevie Ray and Chris once again.

CL: We had a hum, there was was a hum in the studio and we couldn't figure out the source of it. All kinds of things had been tried to find where this hum was...

SRV: ...including cutting the power to the whole block, not just the building, but the block. The whole area.

CL: Yeah, the...whole yeah...

SRV: ...we had the whole neighborhood.

CL: The city engineer came out and we cut the power grid of the city. Cut the whole block's power down and the hum was still inside there, even took the gear to an outlet across the street which was on another circuit, and plugged it in and it was fine. Then brought all that with like...three hundred feet of extension cord, back over across the street into the building and there was the hum again. So we went to all these great lengths and finally the only thing that worked at all was, somebody had the idea to fashion what looked like the backstop of a baseball diamond. It looked like a birdcage that Stevie stood inside (Stevie laughs) and that way the hum would go away.

The House Is Rockin'

DN: "The House Is Rockin'" from In Step. That's one of four songs Stevie Ray wrote on that album with Doyle Bramhall.

SRV: Doyle Bramhall and I wrote these songs together, and we'd both gone through a lot of these same things, as have many other people, and I realize that. I'm just saying that first off...we've known each other since I was about twelve and we'd been friends ever since. He was the first person to pay attention to me playing guitar and I've always held him real close to my heart for that. We've both gone through a lot of problems with drugs and alcohol, and come through them. At least, to date. There's no guarantees, you know? But...today we're both sober and that's a real...I'm grateful for that. But out of this whole thing, we were able to sit down and talk about a lot of these things and sometimes we'd talk for a couple of hours. Then it would dawn on us...we're supposed to be writing songs. And we'd look down, and what was written out already that we had pieces and parts of, could now be tied together by what we'd been discussing.

Wall of Denial

DN: "Wall of Denial" From In Step. Our celebration of Stevie Ray Vaughan's music will be right back with tributes from the likes of Robert Cray, Mark Knopfler, Phil Collins, and Eric Clapton. See you in a minute.

[Cut To Commercial]

DN: Hi, I'm Dan Neer. Welcome back to our special tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Let's hear some tributes from Stevie's peers. Mark Knopfler.

Mark Knopfler: He was one of the best ever. You know, he was really, really tremendous, especially later on. You know, I thought that uhm...something was happening where the Hendrix and Buddy Guy influences were giving way to some real powerful stuff. He's one of the best I've ever heard, no question.

DN: Phil Collins...

Phil Collins: I only played with him once, and that was in the B.B. King special. And uh...Eric played, and I played drums. I've heard him play, and he's obviously a wonderful player, and he was a true blues player as well.

DN: Robert Cray was onstage with Stevie Ray Vaughan at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin just before he died.

Robert Cray: Jimmie showed up...Jimmie Vaughan, and Buddy Guy was there all afternoon watching the shows, and we got a chance to chat. We got a chance to sit in on Clapton's encore, and we played "Sweet Home Chicago" together. We had this big jam session with everybody on stage, which was a lot of fun.

DN: Eric Clapton...

Eric Clapton: Stevie Ray... Buddy Guy... Jimmie Vaughan. These are the players to me. You know...the hard working players that just never stop. They're the guys...if I get some kind of feedback from them, that means everything.

DN: Ok Eric, here's some feedback that should make your day. Stevie Ray Vaughan...

SRV: Eric Clapton was a real big influence on...on many people, including the people he learned from, you know? And he's certainly been a big influence on me and probably every other guitar player of my generation, and later.

DN: White Lion's Vito Bratta and Mike Tramp recorded a song "Blue Monday" as a tribute to Stevie Ray.

Vito Bratta: It's a tribute saying to the world "I love Stevie Ray". This is how I felt, you know?

MT: It's something you would not expect on the record, and that's good enough for us. I mean at the same time it ties in with [???]. All we can say to Stevie is "Thank you for the music."

Rude Mood

DN: "Rude Mood" from Texas Flood. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a musician's musician as we heard just before "Rude Mood". He was also a favorite of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was nominated for his first two Grammies after his first album. The song "Rude Mood" lost out to Sting's "Brimstone and Treacle", and in the Best Traditional Blues Category, the album Texas Flood lost out to one of Stevie Ray's big influences, the great B.B. King.

SRV: I'm starting to feel like I might have a glimmer of an idea what people like Albert King, or B.B. King think when somebody like myself comes along and can't get their music out of his own mind and starts copying them. I'm getting a very small glimpse of what B.B. King must think, because who doesn't play B.B. King stuff in their music? Or try? Who doesn't play Albert King things in their music? Who doesn't play Jimi Hendrix stuff in their music? You know, there's very few people who don't.

Say What?

DN: "Say What?" from Soul To Soul. Stevie Ray's first Grammy Award came in 1984, when a compilation he appeared on called "Blues Explosion" won in the Best Traditional Blues Category. Double Trouble's second album Couldn't Stand the Weather was nominated for a Grammy, then Soul To Soul received a nomination for the track we just heard, "Say What?". This time Stevie Ray lost to a contemporary...Jeff Beck, in the best rock instrumental category. Next Live Alive was nominated. In Step finally won a Grammy in the Contemporary Blues category. Then Family Style, Stevie Ray's collaboration with his brother Jimmie won both categories in which it was nominated. The album won as the Best Contemporary Blues Recording. The Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1990 went to the song "D/FW". Jimmie...

JV: Dallas/Fort Worth. If you ever, haven't you ever been to the airport? You can't go anywhere without going to D/FW. You've either got to go to Atlanta, Chicago, or D/FW. And uh...that song is in honor of the airport. Many times stuck there. If you ever go to Texas and go to the state fair there's a giant guy with the world's biggest Levi's, and the biggest shirt. And his name is Big Tex, and he welcomes you to the state fair, and he goes "Howdy Folks! Welcome to the State Fair of Texas".


DN: More from Family Style is on the way as we continue our tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan.

DN: Shortly before the August 27th tragedy last year, Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan achieved a long time dream of recording an album together. The album is called Family Style. Here's Jimmie...

JV: We had talked about it forever. On the back of the CD there's a picture, a little picture of uh...of uh...Stevie and I when we were little kids. That...the reason we put that picture on there is that's when they started talking about making a record together. Cause our...uh dad said, you know somebody said "When are you guys going to make a record?" You know. And we remembered that. And so that's how long it took. It must have been...I don't know how long...that's 1963. This really does have a big special meaning. You know? And it's really hard for me to explain, it's even hard to talk to, it's kind of a bittersweet deal.

Telephone Song

DN: "Telephone Song" from Family Style. That's some more of the great music that's come from the Lone Star State of Texas. Growing up, Stevie Ray heard a lot of music from his home state but his influences were much wider ranging than even Texas could hold.

SRV: I think that uh...because of the records and everything that Jimmie brought home, and...the big switches that were going on in the music scene when I started playing, all the influences were so much more varied. You know? It used to be more of a regional thing. All over the country...different regions. And it got to be more of a...uh, more like trading out information in a way. You know? When the English blues scene came on, and of course like the Beatles and the Stones and that whole influence came in, I was getting all of that at the same time as Jimmie was bringing home Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Reed, and B.B. King, and Buddy Guy. You know? So it was all kind of ...I got all of it at once...all those influences at once, so it's not so much just a Texas thing.

DN: Of course that Texas thing is still important, as the song "Good Texan" shows...

Good Texan

DN: "Good Texan" from Family Style. Stevie Ray...

SRV: It's really fun because for so long Jimmie had his band and I had ours, you know? And uh...it was kind of like...everybody wanted to know why we didn't play together. And Jimmie kind of put it like it was kind of like having two organ players in a band. You know? But we'd always actually wanted to do something. And now we're getting to do it, and it's...it's...one thing that's come out of it that's real neat for me is that I finally realized that we hadn't had this much fun or been around each other this much since we were little kids.

Hard To Be

DN: "Hard To Be" from Family Style.

JV: Hello everybody, this is Jimmie Vaughan and we're going to be right back with some more music right after this.

[Cut To Commercial]

DN: Stevie Ray Vaughan's death last year was a tragic loss for the music world. Naturally, the tragedy was more personal for his immediate family.

JV: This is a really funny feeling, some of these...things, you know. I just haven't talked about it. I don't want to...I'm very positive. I think I've done well, my family has come a long way in doing...handling this. I want to be positive. I want everybody to know that uh...that we're all right, and that everything's going to be all right. We're back out here and uh...I want to thank you for all the help that they've given us. Cause everybody was really nice.

Tick Tock

DN: "Tick Tock" from Family Style. Stevie Ray is gone now, but he has influenced countless musicians, just as he was influenced.

SRV: What it really does is makes me go back and go... "Well, wait a minute. What right do I have to feel like anybody's stealing anything?", because I borrowed it too, you know. And it's really, it's really the music that lives on.

DN: ...And Stevie Ray Vaughan's music will live on a long, long time. There's a lot of music left in the vaults that's going to be released in the coming years. These releases will be supervised by Jimmie Vaughan.

DN: When Stevie Ray Vaughan was asked about his influences, his answer contained the usual suspects and a few surprises.

SRV: Albert King, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, The Who, Clapton, The Monkees.

DN: The Monkees? We'll be listening for that influence next week as Media America presents a "Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan."