Fans and music lovers have been celebrating the life and music of legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan on this, the 20th anniversary of his untimely death. Some fans are paying respects by visiting his grave site at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Oak Park, Texas. Others are writing and video blogging about him on the Internet, and most are just rocking out to the awesome catalog of music he left us. He made an indelible impression on the music world with his intoxicating blues guitar, voice and vitality.
He passed away in a helicopter crash on Aug. 27, 1990, at the age of 36, and is rightfully considered a legend.
Vaughan’s debut album, “Texas Flood,” is one of my all-time favorite guitar albums. It definitely inspired me to work harder on the guitar when I was first learning at age 12, because I had to play like Stevie Ray. Some really great songs are on that album; “Love Struck Baby” and “Pride and Joy” are classic SVR, the lightning quick “Testify” and “Rude Moon” flash some stupefying guitar chops and Vaughan hypnotizes you with the slow blues “Lenny” and the title track.
I’ll never forget the day I bought the tape, excited because I never heard it before and because my uncle Lee told me it was the best album ever. The walk home from the music store was a quarter of a mile, and I was looking forward to listening to “Texas Flood” on my walkman on the way home. I wound up getting caught in a fast and furious torrential downpour of rain. Lightening struck a street light overhead, and sent the metal casing shooting down at me.
I was running for my life and for shelter, and my safe house would be an empty St. Bartholomeus on Linden Street.
I sat in a pew and took out my Stevie Ray Vaughan tape and looked at the cover and the song titles, and was wondering how he was going to make “Mary Had a Little Lamb” cool. I would soon find out, as I sat in that empty church for 33 minutes and listened to the entire album. I became an instant Stevie Ray Vaughan fanatic and a devout believer in God.
Indeed, Stevie Ray is powerful, and if you’re not familiar with his work and think you might like it, you’re probably right. “Texas Flood”is the perfect place to start.