The Importance of Stevie Ray Vaughan – Gibson
Nearly 23 years ago — on August 27, 1990 — blues-rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash after a show at East Troy, Wisconsin’s Alpine Valley Music Theater. Vaughan won millions of fans and almost singled-handedly put blues back on the commercial map during his seven years as a major-label recording artist, even while transcending many of the genre’s customary limitations.
He also captivated the imagination and earned the respect of a list of ruling six-string virtuosos that includes Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Larry Coryell, Keith Richards and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett. The latter unabashedly refers to Vaughan as one of his all-time favorite players. Veteran blues artists Etta James, B.B. King and Buddy Guy directly attributed the mid-’80s revival of their previously ebbing careers to Stevie Ray. And today, new generations of guitar heroes — from established hit-makers like John Mayer to newcomers like Nashville’s Bart Walker — all follow in his stylistic path and openly celebrate his influence.
What made and still makes Vaughan and his music resonate with so many, players and laymen alike? The nut answer is this: typically great guitarists either pivot toward the intellectual/technical or the visceral/gut-level. Vaughan was among the rare masters who’ve combined both.
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