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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Friday, August 27, 2010


Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue, Austin, Texas
Photo © Steve Hopson, 2006

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of Stevie Ray Vaughan's untimely death. Here's the entry from The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia:

Vaughan, Stevie Ray [1954 - 1990]
Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas, on October 3, 1954, learnt guitar after growing to love his older brother JIMMIE’s blues-based record collection, dropped out of high school in 1972 and moved to Austin, where there was a vast student population and a burgeoning live music scene. He became a defining figure in 1980s Texas rock’n’roll (a kind of benign redneck R&B). A master of the Fender Stratocaster, with a unique tone and technique, he led the group Double Trouble. You might blame Stevie Ray Vaughan for the irritating riff on “Love and Theft”’s only weak track, ‘Honest With Me’.

Prior to Double Trouble, Vaughan had played with local Austin groups the Nightcrawlers and Paul Ray & The Cobras. In 1976, Vaughan formed his own band, the Triple Threat Revue, first re-named Triple Threat and then, when the vocalist quit in 1981, Double Trouble (though actually this remained a trio). In 1982 they played the Montreux Festival, Switzerland, where David Bowie asked Vaughan to play on what became his Let’s Dance album. This led to other stints as a sideman with the ROLLING STONES and Jackson Browne. Double Trouble’s 1983 début album Texas Flood was a critical success and sold half a million; they followed it with the far greater commerical successes of Couldn’t Stand the Weather (1984) and Soul to Soul (1985). These records were on Epic, but another album, Blues Explosion, on Atlantic, won a Grammy as Best Traditional Blues Record of the Year in 1984.

In 1986, after collapsing on stage in Germany, he checked into an Atlanta rehabilitation clinic. Two years later he seemed to be fully functioning again, performing an unplugged set on MTV and in 1989 touring with Jeff Beck and releasing the 5th Double Trouble album, In Step, which also gave him a no.1 radio hit, ‘Crossfire’.

In 1990 Vaughan recorded Family Style, an album made with brother Jimmie, co-headlined another tour, this time with Joe Cocker, and embarked on a headlining Double Trouble tour. That April 30 he laid down some guitar overdubs on tracks for Dylan’s Under The Red Sky album that Dylan had recorded that January 6th. He played on ‘Cat’s In The Well’ and ’10,000 Men’, and played lead guitar on ‘God Knows’.

Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash near East Troy, Wisconsin, on August 27, 1990 (having just performed as a guest at an ERIC CLAPTON concert in Alpine Valley). Bob Dylan first responded with appropriate restraint: ‘He was a sweet guy. Something else was coming through him besides his guitar playing and singing.’ Later, unfortunately, before a concert in Merrillville, Indiana, he added the vacuously inaccurate: ‘It’s almost like having to play the night that Kennedy died. He’ll probably be revered as much as and in the same way as Hank Williams’. More sweetly, he dedicated a performance of ‘Moon River’ to Vaughan that night.

Posthumous record releases are plentiful. One of the earliest was that recorded with brother Jimmie that same year; Family Style was released as by ‘the Vaughan Brothers’. There is now a ludicrous statue of Stevie Ray at Riverside Drive and South 1st Street in Austin.

[Double Trouble: Texas Flood, Epic FET/EK 38734, US, 1983; Blues Explosion, Atlantic 7 80149-1, US, 1984; Couldn’t Stand The Weather, Epic FET/EK 39304, US, 1984; Soul To Soul, Epic FET/EK 40036, US, 1985; Live Alive!, Epic, EGK/EGT 40511, US, 1986; In Step, Epic OET/EK 45024, US, 1989. The Vaughan Brothers: Family Style, Epic ZT/ZK 46225, US, 1990.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thought these quotes from Rory Gallagher, the great Irish guitarist, about Bob might interest you.

Rory: That would be brilliant. I worked with JERRY LEE LEWIS as well, which was great. - I want to work with some of the Irish musicians and some English players. My dream is to play with MARTIN CARTHY, who to me is a supreme acoustic player, BERT JANSCH as well and DAVY GRAHAM. You can`t play with them all. And I`m very inspired by BOB DYLAN`s new album (the equally all-acoustic "Good As I Been To You" which just came out). Even though the critics didn`t like it. I think it`s a fantastic project. I would like to work with BOB DYLAN, that would be my absolute maximum at the moment. That song "Could Have Had Religion" that I do, it`s not my song. I re-wrote it, it`s an old song. He was considering that for his acoustic album. But I would love to do an album and be his MlKE BLOOMFlELD for him, like on the "Highway 61"-song, on "Blonde On Blonde", I`d love to work with him. I`d also like to work with JOHN HAMMOND, the New York Blues singer and guitar player and a million other people I`d like to work with.

Rory: I met BOB DYLAN, I was very fortunate. I met him once, he came to a show in Los Angeles in 1976, and it was the end of a tour and it looked like our spirits were kind of a bit low. It was a great tour, but we met at the end of it. He walked into the dressing room and I nearly collapsed. He came in with his kids and he was talking about BLIND BOY FULLER. It was very interesting - Country Blues, you know. But I`m still a school boy: I still hero-worship people, it`s a terrible thing for a man of my age to be like that. But if I`d work with DYLAN, that would be my dream. I know some people in Gerrnany don`t like him, cause some of his shows are good, some are bad, but you either respect him or you don`t, and I do.

5:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further to Dylan & Gallagher, thought the following might be of interest:

Donal {Gallagher, Rory's brother] tells of the time Dylan came to see Rory at a gig in the States. He came backstage after and Donal, not recognising him, wouldn't let him in the dressing-room. “Well,” says Donal, “He was just this bedraggled guy, who looked like somebody trying to look like Dylan and had ended up looking like Ian Hunter. There's any number of guys like that in the States.” Dylan said he understood and was halfway down the stairs when Donal registered who he was. “I just called out ‘Bob’ and he turned round and I knew it was him. I just kept apologising and he kept saying no, it was okay, he understood, and he kept trying to leave. Jesus, I was freaking. I said Rory’ll kill me if he knows you've been here’ and he said ‘That's okay, man, I understand’. I just grabbed him, and dragged him back up those stairs.”

Rory, seemingly, was less flummoxed by the visitation, though he understood Donal’s dilemma. They both remember the time they gave the red carpet treatment to somebody they both believed to be Dylan who turned out to be an impostor. Meeting the real thing was, concedes Rory, “quite a shaky experience . . , y’know . . . like meeting Presley. But he seemed a nice enough guy.”

What did you talk about? “Well, he picked up my National guitar and we played some tunes. And we talked about Martin Carthy.”

A crowd of Chrysalis representatives and assorted liggers heard that Bob Dylan was holding court with Rory Gallagher and busted past Donal, frightening off the great man, Dylan sent Rory tickets when he came to England, but Rory didn't try to see him backstage. That's not his way.

11:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further to the Dylan-Gallagher connection, the following quote comes from Rory's brother, Donal:'
[Bob] Dylan paid Rory a great compliment. I remember he contacted the office around 1993, looking to get a copy of `Live in Europe' because he liked the track "I Could've Had Religion" - it was for the acoustic album he was doing, `Good As I've Been To You'. So I sent him a CD copy, and I also sent him `Fresh Evidence' and said "That's what Rory was doing back in '73, here's what he's doing now." In 1994, Rory and Dylan were sharing a bill in the Montreux Jazz Festival. I asked Dylan why he didn't use the track. He said "The album was all traditional. When I got the CD of Rory's, I wondered where he got the other four verses - other than the one original that all the blues guys knew. I worked it out that Rory wrote them himself. It would have been very unfair of me to take that song, do it as a traditional and call it a Bob Dylan traditional. I couldn't live with that." Rory said "Well, you should have done it!" So he said "Maybe we'll record it together at some point." Sadly, a year later, Rory died.'

In later years, Rory did a number of excellent Dylan covers - including 'Dont think twice' which is available on You Tube.

It seems to me that Gallagher was greatly under-estimated during his lifetime and was one of the greatest White bluesmen of his generation.

11:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gallagher's version of 'Dont Think Twice' can be found at:

4:33 am  

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