This month the Texan powerhouse responsible for kick-starting the blues-rock renaissance of the early 1980s comes under the Les Davidson spotlight.
Les Davidson brings you two full solos in the style of Texas blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Stephen Ray Vaughan’s energetic, passionate approach to the blues ignited the genre during the 1980s. His fiery style gained him notoriety at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982, and his debut album, Texas Flood, the following year was a huge commercial success selling over half a million copies. As much as his star shone brightly it was sadly short lived as he was killed in a post-gig helicopter crash, aged just 35.
Stevie was born in 1954 and raised in Dallas, Texas. He got his first guitar when he was seven years old, finding inspiration close to home with his older brother Jimmie (The Fabulous Thunderbirds). Stevie was a quick learner and by 1971 he had moved to Austin, Texas and started to gig with local bands. He cites influences from that time as Albert King, Jimmy Reed, Lonnie Mack, Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy.
After working with local bands and making a name as a hot blues player Stevie formed his own band, Triple Threat, who were to become Double Trouble. As Stevie’s work schedule with Double Trouble was soaring, gigging across the US and abroad, it was his playing on David Bowie’s massive hit Let’s Dance that brought Stevie to mass commercial attention. While his second release, Couldn’t Stand The Weather went gold, he was awarded a Grammy for his In Step album.
On August 26, after performing a show with Eric Clapton in Winsconsin, Steve boarded a helicopter with three of Clapton’s entourage. In foggy conditions, the helicopter flew into a nearby hill shortly after take-off, killing all onboard. In April 2016, Dallas City Council approved a sculpture of both the Vaughan brothers to be erected as testament to Stevie’s music and legacy. I’m in regular tuning for both these
Eb examples. Stevie used to drop his tuning to and use heavy strings, usually 13s. He used real muscle in his playing so make every note count. A great way to practise this is to play as loud as you can on an unplugged electric.
NEXT MONTH Les gets into the bluesy side of Deep Purple and Rainbow’s Ritchie Blackmore
I USE HEAVY STRINGS, TUNE LOW, PLAY HARD AND FLOOR IT. FLOOR IT. THAT’S TECHNICAL TALK Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan kickstarted the Strat-led 1980s blues revolultion