Stevie Ray Vaughan Biography
Last updated: 08/31/2014 07:17:54 PM
1954 - Stephen Ray Vaughan is born October 3 at Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas to Jim and Martha Vaughan.
1961 - Stevie receives his first guitar. He described it as "a plastic toy, with only three strings." Under the guidance of his brother Jimmie (b. 1951), Stevie's talent begins to form.
1966 - Jimmie's friend Doyle Bramhall hears Stevie playing guitar (a song called "Jeff's Boogie") and is duly impressed. He encourages the young guitarist to keep practicing. As Stevie put it, "He was the first one that ever told me I was good."
1970 - While working as a dishwasher in a Dallas burger joint called Dairy Mart, Stevie falls into a barrel full of grease. He decides to quit his job and pursue his dream of being a full-time musician and forms the band Blackbird. He later described the "grease incident" in a television interview:
"Part of my job was to clean out the trash bins. One night, I was standing on top of a barrel, [and] the top caved in. I fell in grease up to [my chest], and right then I decided 'I'm not gonna do this anymore. I'm gonna play guitar'."
1971 - Stevie sits in with a high school band call Cast of Thousands for two songs as they record an album called A New Hi. Over Christmas break, Stevie drops out of high school and moves to Austin with Blackbird.
1972 - Stevie joins Krackerjack, a rock band, but quits a few months later when the lead singer decides the band should wear makeup on stage. Krackerjack's bassist is future Double Trouble member Tommy Shannon.
1973 - Marc Benno invites Stevie to join his band the Nightcrawlers. Doyle Brahmall is also a member of the band. Later that year, the Nightcrawlers drive to Hollywood to record an album for A&M records. A&M decides not to release the record and the disappointed band travels back to Texas. Stevie finds a battered '59 Stratocaster in Ray's Music Exchange in Austin. He names it "Number One" and becomes his favorite guitar for the rest of his life.
1974 - Stevie joins Paul Ray and the Cobras, a popular Austin band. For the next two-and-a-half years, Stevie hones his talent on the Austin club circuit.
1977 - The Cobras win "Band Of the Year" in an Austin music poll. Stevie leaves the Cobras in September to form a blues/R&B band called Triple Threat Revue. The line-up stars Stevie Ray, W.C. Clark (bass), Lou Ann Barton (vocals), Freddie "Pharoah" Walden (drums), and Mike Kindred (keyboards).
1978 - W.C. Clark leaves the band and is replaced by Jackie Newhouse. Saxophone player Johnny Reno briefly joins the band. Freddie Walden later quits and is replaced by Chris "Whipper" Layton. The band renames itself Triple Threat.
1979 - In August, Triple threat plays at the San Francisco Blues Festival. Lenora (Lenny) Bailey and Stevie Ray Vaughan are married between sets at the Rome Inn in Austin on December 20.
1980 - Lou Ann Barton leaves Triple Threat to join Roomful of Blues. Stevie Ray renames the group Double Trouble. The group performs at the Steamboat 1874 club in Austin on April 1. This performance is recorded for radio and will later be released as the 1992 album In The Beginning.
1981 - On January 2, Tommy Shannon replaces Jackie Newhouse on bass. A taping of a performance at an Austin music festival winds up in the hands of Mick Jagger.
1982 - Stevie and Double Trouble play a private party for the Rolling Stones at New York's Danceteria on April 22. The band performs at the Montreux International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the first unsigned and unrecorded band to do so. David Bowie, who was in the audience, asks Stevie to play on his Let's Dance album. Jackson Browne, who was also in the audience in Montreaux, offers Stevie free studio time at his Downtown Studio in Los Angeles. In that studio, the band records what will become Texas Flood in only two days. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble are signed to Epic Records by legendary A&R man John Hammond.
1983 - Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's first album, is released on June 13. It is nominated for two Grammy awards: "Best Traditonal Blues Recording" and "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" (for "Rude Mood"). The band appears on the "Austin City Limits" telvision show. Stevie wins three categories in the Guitar Player's Readers Poll: "Best New Talent", "Best Blues Album", and "Best Electric Blues Guitarist" (beating out none other than Eric Clapton!). He becomes only the second guitarist in history to win three Guitar Player awards in one year (the first is Jeff Beck). Stevie will win the "Best Electric Blues Guitarist" award every year until 1991.
1984 - Couldn't Stand The Weather is released on May 15. Stevie wins his first Grammy: "Best Traditional Blues Recording" for his performace of "Texas Flood" from Montreux (this song appears on Blues Explosion from Atlantic Records). "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" from Couldn't Stand The Weather is nominated for "Best Rock Instrumental Performnce". In November, Stevie wins two W.C. Handy National Blues Awards: "Entertainer of the Year" and "Blues Instrumentalist of the Year." It is the first time a white person has won either award.
1985 - Keyboard player Reese Wynans joins Double Trouble. Epic releases Soul To Soul on September 30. This becomes Double Trouble's third gold album. Stevie receives his fifth Grammy nomination: "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" (for "Say What!" from Soul To Soul). He also produces Lonnie Mack's comeback album Strike Like Lightning and plays in several of its songs.
1986 - While on tour in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Stevie's years drug and alcohol abuse catch up with him and he collapses. He manages to struggle through two more shows, but the last 13 tour dates are canceled when Stevie enters a London drug rehabilitation clinic. Stevie's father Jim dies of Parkinson's disease on August 27. Live Alive is released on November 15.
1987 - Stevie makes a cameo apperance as himself in the movie "Back to the Beach," performing a duet of "Pipeline" with surf-guitar legend Dick Dale. In September, Stevie appears on the Cinemax special "Blues Session" with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, B.B. King, and Albert King. He and Tommy Shannon emerge clean and sober from an Atlanta detox center. Later that year, Stevie files for divorce from Lenora Bailey Vaughan.
1988 - Stevie Ray appears on the MTV special "Stevie Wonder's Characters" and headlines a concert at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The performance (including a jam with B.B. King, Albert Collins, and Katie Webster) is filmed for inclusion in the Showtime special "Coast To Coast". Stevie's divorce from Lenora is finalized.
1989 - In January, Stevie and Double Trouble perform at an inaugural party for President George Bush in Washington, D.C. In Step is released on June 6. This is the first album that Stevie makes without the aid of drugs. "Crossfire" becomes Stevie's first #1 album radio hit and earns Stevie another Grammy ("Best Contemporary Blues Recording"). Double Trouble tours North America with Jeff Beck and appears on "Austin City Limits" for the second time.
1990 - On January 30, Stevie performs three songs on "MTV Unplugged." Stevie and Jimmie travel to Memphis to record Family Style in March and April. The album is released later that year. In June, he embarks on a two-month co-headlining tour with Joe Cocker. On August 25, Double Trouble performs at a concert at Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. The line-up includes Robert Cray, Eric Clapton, and Buddy Guy. After a rousing final encore on the 26th, Stevie boards a helicopter on its way to Chicago. Shortly after midnight on August 27, Stevie Ray Vaughan is killed, along with the pilot and three members of Eric Clapton's entourage when the helicopter crashes into a fog-shrouded hill. He is buried in a private ceremony at Laurel Land Cemetary in Dallas, Texas on August 31. The mourners include Billy Gibbons Stevie Wonder, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, and Dr. John. Outside the chapel, more than 3,000 fans gathered to say goodbye.