Born and raised in Oak Cliff, a community in the southwest part of Dallas, Texas, Stevie Ray Vaughan was a celebrated blues guitarist, song writer, and singer. He was also known for being a record producer. The younger brother of Jimmie Vaughan, who continues to record and perform to this day, he started playing guitar at the age of 7. He was part of many bands in high school, and at the age 17, he dropped out of school and moved to Austin to concentrate on music.
There he formed a group called the Triple Threat Revue, that in time evolved into Double Trouble in 1982. They were drawing enough attention in Austin and beyond that they received an invitation to play at the esteemed Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Here they caught the eye of David Bowie and Jackson Brown. Bowie recruited him to play on his upcoming Let’s Dance album, which became a smash hit. While they were in Los Angeles recording Bowie’s album, he offered Vaughan’s band his personal studio to use to record their own material, when Stevie was not busy working on his tracks.
Soon after the next year, Epic Records signed Vaughan and Double Trouble to a contract and their debut album Texas Flood was released in June of 1983. Many successful tours followed and in 1984 while on tour, Couldn’t Stand the Weather was released. Soul to Soul followed in 1985, while the band still kept up a rigorous touring schedule.
Although his career was taking off, soon after the 1985 album release, Vaughan checked himself into a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta for his addiction to alcohol and cocaine. After a successful stay in which he kicked his addiction, he returned to touring with his band.
In 1988, In Step, was recorded, the 4th studio album with Double Trouble. With this recording, Vaughan began to express the experiences he had with his new found sobriety. It was also a departure from the style of previous albums, with less blues, and more groove-infused music.
In March 1990, Vaughan teamed with his brother Jimmie to record the album Family Style. The album was a long-awaited collaboration and a commercial success, but he would not live to see its release. On August 27th of the same year, Vaughan and his band Double Trouble had just finished a performance in East Troy, Wisconsin. After the concert, the musicians boarded helicopters to take them back to Chicago. According to reports, there was haze and fog in the area, and patches of low clouds.
Vaughan was on one of the helicopters, along with three others, and they all perished when the helicopter slammed into the side of a ski hill shortly after take-off. On August 30th, Vaughan was laid to rest next to his father at the Laurel Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. The service was attended by a who’s who line-up of famous musicians.
To this day, Vaughan’s music continues to inspire a generation of blues, rock and roll, and alternative artists, most noticeably John Mayer. Over two decades since his death, he is still regarded as one of the most distinctive sounding guitar players in history.