Still mad

J’ever think about someone who passed away and go, “Dangit! It’s not fair!”¬†?

Stevie Ray Vaughan died on this day in 1990, and I’m still mad about it. Soon after he’d made a triumphant comeback after quitting drinking and drugs (his cocktail of choice was rinsing down cocaine with Crown Royal), he boarded a helicopter in Wisconsin and never made it to his next destination.

He was a quiet man, humble and friendly, in spite of being “raised” in an unloving, violent home, and getting the crap beat out of him at school every day. Starting on booze in junior high, he played his way through the dark days in Graham, Texas to the glare of the rock star lifestyle, while never really scoring the megastar status that sold out huge arenas. Some hoity-toities called him “overrated,” and a Texas joke who wore silly clothes with music notes on them, and had his initials emblazoned on his guitar, and played with too little finesse. Yeah, there’s no law against being an idiot, so we’ll give them a pass.

I highly recommend Caught in the Crossfire, the first biography written about SRV. Informative, funny and sad. This was a man who deserved to live out his life, and whose best music was yet to be made.

For the truly faithful, here is a vid of a sound check, featuring a sleepy (and likely hung over) Stevie. Man, to play like that when you’re barely conscious…

For greatest effect, let it play while you read this.

Dangit. It’s not fair.

6 thoughts on “Still mad

  1. David

    It always makes me sad when I think of some of the greats we lost way too young…Stevie Ray chief among them. I saw Jimmie Hendrix in Shreveport, LA in 1968 such talent…gone at 27; Liz knew Janis Joplin…dead at 27; the list is far too long isn’t it? Gonna be a Stevie Ray day today….

    “You’re livin a dream….as though you’r on top
    My mind is achin’….Lord it won’t stop
    That’s how it happens….Livin’ life by the drop”

    Rest in Peace!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      You saw Jimi — he was Stevie’s idol! And Liz knew JJ…the world’s smaller than we all think.

      Totally agree on those gone too early. Jimi and Janis make me think of the “27 Club.” Bizarre…

  2. Suzanne

    When I lived in Grand Rapids I was part of a festival there, singing in a big choir and we were doing some huge piece with an orchestra. I want to say something by Beethoven. Anyway, we were singing in an auditorium in a building that has other smaller auditoriums. SRV and his band were playing that evening and as I was walking to our warm-up room I passed the auditorium where he was warming up. I stood in the door and listened and someone on stage ( I want to say it was SRV haha) looked at me and asked “Can we help you?” I was totally embarrassed and said “no sorry” or something equally brilliant and left.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Whoa! What I wouldn’t give to have even been there to listen to a minute of it! It’s one of my greatest musical regrets: not seeing him play live. You have an SRV story and I don’t. :-(


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