He is one of the most recognizable names in Texas music. known for kickstarting a revival of interest in the blues, and for his performances with influential artists like David Bowie. He was headed into a new chapter of his personal and professional life when he died in a helicopter crash in 1990, at the age of 35. Of course, we’re talking about Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Musicians and writers Alan Paul and Andy Aledort collected interviews with people who knew Vaughan best. Their new book, “Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan” is being celebrated as a definitive biography.
Alan Paul says people often underestimate the role older brother, Jimmie played in Stevie Ray’s life and music.
“As we talked to people, especially from those early days in Dallas, it just became so apparent how big a deal Jimmie was, and how much awe other musicians held him in at that time,” Paul says. “And you can only imagine the impact that had on Stevie as his brother and living in the same house.”
Paul says Stevie Ray Vaughan worked hard for the musical success he achieved, paying his dues as he learned his craft.
“The amount of work, and the amount of scuffling, and the amount of sleeping on couches and driving in vans, and sleeping on pool tables and living off of girlfriends jobs – its something that we wanted to convey. And also, the story of his band.”
Paul and Aledort interviewed influential musicians and friends about Vaughan. They include Eric Clapton, the late B. B. King and Vaughan’s bandmates, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon. Paul says he wanted the voices of the people he interviewed to come through in the book.
“We want everyone to feel like they’re sitting in a room having a conversation with Jimmie and with Chris and with Tommy,” Paul says.
Vaughan had addictions, and Paul says Vaughan almost died in 1986. But he had gotten sober before his death, and had even been able to help fellow musician Ray Wylie Hubbard beat his addiction. Paul says he and Hubbard cried together when they discussed Vaughan and his impact on Hubbard’s life.
“The fact that he was able to recover and become not only the person he was before, but really a better person, a more fully-developed person – someone aware of his failings and human frailty – I’m getting emotional just talking about it,” Paul says.
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.