Twenty-five years ago on August 27, shortly after midnight, tragedy struck the music world when a helicopter crash resulted in the death of Austin music legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. He had just finished performing on stage with Eric Clapton at the Alpine Valley Music Theater, near East Troy, Wisconsin. Vaughan died on impact when the helicopter he was riding in slammed into a ski slope. Also killed were three of Eric Clapton’s entourage and the pilot. At the time of his death, Vaughan was just coming into his own and was one of the best blues rock artists in the music world.
His death cut short a promising career. In the decade before his death, Stevie Ray and his band Double Trouble were playing the music scene in Austin, Texas. Guitar Player magazine dubbed Stevie Ray Vaughan the “best electric blues guitar player.” His first album in 1983, Texas Flood, sold almost a million copies and earned Vaughan a Grammy nomination, which he did not win. However, Vaughan did receive six Grammy awards, four being awarded after his death. Stevie also received several other music awards and was one of the first inductees in the Austin Music Hall of Fame. After the death of Vaughan, Dallas Morning News published several stories commemorating Vaughan’s achievements.
Just before his death in 1990, Vaughan released his second to last album, In Step, which won a Grammy Award for “best contemporary blues” category. Vaughan’s next album, Family Style, was released after his death on September 25, 1990. This album was a collaboration with his brother Jimmie Vaughan. (Ironically, Jimmie and his wife would have been on the same flight but there was not enough room. Stevie was not feeling well, so he went ahead on the flight.) Vaughan’s last album, The Sky is Crying, was released over a year after his death on November 5, 1991. Also since his death, there have been several compilation and live albums released to ensure Vaughan’s legacy will continue on.
Twenty-five years after the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan, his memory still lives on not only in Austin, Texas, but in the hearts and minds of all who loved his music. Vaughan and his band Double Trouble were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April of this year. Texas is also remembering its own; in Austin, a memorial statue of Vaughan was erected at Auditorium Shores on Lady Bird Lake, where he performed several concerts. In Dallas, the 21st annual Stevie Ray Vaughan Remembrance Ride & Concert will be held on October 5, 2015, at Cowboys Red River.
Oak Cliff, the Dallas suburb where young Stevie grew up, has also made plans to build a monument honoring Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan in Kiest Park, just a few blocks away from the Vaughan family home. Surely Stevie Ray Vaughan will be remembered not only 25 years after his death but for years to come.
[Image courtesy of Getty Images]