Clearly, when great guitarists talk about other great guitarists (and those that influenced them), Stevie Ray Vaughan’s name comes up quickly. A little research — including a video chat with a guy who has written three books about him — shows that Vaughan was respected. He also was liked as a person.
Please check out the interview above with Craig Hopkins, a biographer of the great SRV. The interview originally posted at The Daily Music Break, a sister site to HiFi & Vinyl Now.
A bio of SRV is here. All the way at the bottom — below the Amazon box — is an excerpt of a 1983 installment of “In Session” featuring SRV and Albert King. It’s long and fascinating look at Vaughan playing and interacting with a guitarist he cited as a major influence.
Here are some takes on Vaughan by his contemporaries. The least familiar name on this list is Tommy Shannon. Shannon is a bass player who played with Vaughan, Johnny Winter and other Texas blues legends. He well may have known SRV best of all of those quoted.
Eric Clapton: “We played on the same bill on his last two gigs. On the first night, I watched his set for about half an hour and then I had to leave because I couldn’t handle it,” Clapton admitted years later. “I knew enough to know that his playing was just going to get better and better. His set had started, he was like two or three songs in, and I suddenly got this flash that I’d experienced before so many times whenever I’d seen him play, which was that he was like a channel. One of the purest channels I’ve ever seen, where everything he sang and played flowed straight down from heaven. Almost like one of those mystic Sufi guys with one finger pointing up and one finger down. That’s what it was like to listen to. And I had to leave just to preserve some kind of sanity or confidence in myself.”
Buddy Guy: “The first time Stevie and I met, he told me he had watched me before. It was in Austin, we were onstage, and I heard these electrified notes coming out from me like lightning and thunder behind me. And he had slipped up on stage behind me. And I turned around and said, ‘Who’s that?’ and the vibe was just there. This is Stevie Ray Vaughan. I said, ‘I’ve been looking for you.’ You know, it was like I found what I had been looking for. The rest of the night we played, almost until daybreak that next morning. Stevie told me how his brother Jimmie had learned a bit before him, and he kept hearing this record of mine. His brother wouldn’t let him listen to it, so he went and stole it. He said, ‘These are the licks I want.’ We laughed about that the night of his tragedy. I’ll never forget some of the licks he was playing the last night. I think it was one of his best nights ever.”
Lonnie Mack: “Stevie was a giver, he wasn’t a taker. I’ve never met anybody to this day that has ever had anything bad to say about him; it’s always good and positive. Playing live shows or making records with Stevie was always a great experience because he pulled things out of you. You would find yourself reaching for things that you never thought about doing because his influence was always rubbing off on you. I think everybody that ever met him probably felt that because he definitively brought the best out in everyone. I also think that Stevie has probably influenced more young guitar players than anybody on the planet since Chuck Berry to keep rock and blues alive. I’m sure proud to say that we were friends and brothers. I’ll always remember that, and I think he was the greatest.”
Tommy Shannon: “He even had his own sound back then. He was still young and drawing all of his influences from different guitar players – you could tell that – but he already had that Stevie touch, something that set him apart from other guitar players. It’s strange – sometimes you can hear a guitar player play just one note and you go, ‘Well, that guy is special’ – you just feel immediately. There was something really different and special about him.”
John Mayer: “I’m a Stevie Ray Vaughan wannabe,” he concluded, “because I wanted to be Stevie and I still want to be Stevie. And if you ever pick up a guitar, is there anybody better to want to be than Stevie Ray Vaughan?”