In The Studio - The Best of SRV
- Part One
Hosts: Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, Buddy Guy, Joe Nick Patoski.
Originally aired week of June 21, 1993
- Part Two
Hosts: Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton.
Originally Aired week of June 28, 1993
Transcription by Paul Kaplan email@example.com, a member of
The TexasFlood Typin' Team.
PART ONE - SEGMENT ONE
Hi and welcome to "In The Studio". I'm Redbeard, with the stories behind the greatest rock and
roll albums in history. This week we go in the studio for part one of a two-part bittersweet story
of the best from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
[Sound bites of "Pride & Joy," and "Cold Shot," in the background]
- Chris Layton:
- Yeah, Stevie, in playing with him there was a thing about him that was very,
very simple. It's like, if it, if it felt good, then it was good. It was a very "trust your
instincts" band. Spontaneous... didn't matter if there were some little minor performance
mistakes, if the if the spirit was there and there was fire and the feeling was good, then it
["Change It" sound bite]
Hi. This is Tommy Shannon. And I'm Chris Layton in the studio for the best of Stevie Ray
Vaughan and Double Trouble, Part 1.
- Struggle. Fame. Despair. Near death. Recovery. Triumph. and finally, tragedy. All of
these are elements in the story of Stevie Ray Vaughan. But through it all, there was the
music. Stevie Vaughan grew up with his big brother Jimmie in the Oak Cliff section of
Dallas Texas. Stevie idolized his big brother's way with the guitar and dropped out of
high school to follow his brother to Austin's growing club scene. There, Stevie could
actually could see and hear many of the blues greats whose records he played endlessly
as a child. These bluesmen had discovered an enthusiastic club owner in Clifford Antone,
and an audience that appreciated them. It was the perfect atmosphere for the young,
skinny Stevie Vaughan to apply for apprenticeship. He was payin' dues and playin' the
blues nightly. And nobody bothered to check his I.D. for legal age. Stevie Vaughan's
guitar playing was an all-access pass that could never be revoked. Double Trouble
drummer Chris Layton remembers vividly the sound that would change his life.
- First time I heard Stevie play, and I didn't meet him that night, but the first time I heard
him play was at a place called Soap Creek Saloon in Austin, Texas. Drove up, got out of
my car, and I could hear the band playing but I heard this . . . this piercing guitar as if it
was like outside and not even coming from inside, it was just it was like drilling right
through the walls of the building and I thought "Wow, who is this guy?" and it was
Stevie. He's playing and I thought he's remarkable, it was just, he was.
- Double Trouble bass player, Tommy Shannon finds it fateful how he came to know Stevie
- Tommy Shannon:
- It was really kind of ironic the way I met him. Before I met him, I was
playing with Johnny Winter and we broke up, and I flew back to Dallas and this club
called The Fog was our old hangout. That's where I met Johnny Winter. And uh, I went
in one night and Stevie was playing, he's about fourteen, fifteen years old and there's all
these big people around him you know and he just looked up to `em. A lot of `em kinda
treated him like a pest, you know, later on he said he remembered I was the only one that
was nice to him, but uh, he was incredible. I mean I knew even though he was just a little
kid that he had a special gift, I knew that.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's big break came with a chance booking
without any record contract at the prestigious 1982 Montreaux Jazz Festival at Lake
Geneva, Switzerland, where audience members David Bowie and Jackson Browne were
so impressed, that Bowie hired Stevie Vaughan as featured guitarist for Bowie's "Let's
Dance" album, while Jackson Browne invited Double Trouble to use his recording studio
in L.A. Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton recall their humble beginnings recording with
Stevie Ray Vaughan.
- We went to L.A. and ah, see we did three days right?
- Yeah, as it turned out is what it really kind of amounted to.
- Yeah, the second day we did two songs. And the last day we did eight.
- What we did was we actually mounted like what was like a two week tour with that being
the objective. To do shows and make a little bit of money and end up in L.A. and be able
to record. But Jackson gave us the studio time, in fact, "Texas Flood" is actually recorded
on like pre-production recordings of "Lawyers in Love." Over the top of just used tape, so
he threw that in too.
I guess if you look deep enough, you'll find "Lawyers
in Love" underneath "Texas Flood."
["Pride & Joy" is played.]
- Yeah. From Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's debut, 1983's "Texas Flood,"
that's "Pride & Joy." Their music, rough, hewn and soulful was in high contrast with the
highly synthesized keyboard-heavy modern rock of bands such as the Eurythmics, and
culturally it was a planet away from other chart toppers such as England's The Police
and Australia's Men at Work. Stevie Vaughan's high-profile licks on Bowie's comeback
album and Double Trouble's "Texas Flood," were a calling card that many noticed.
Here's legendary blues guitarist and singer, Buddy Guy.
- Buddy Guy:
- Well first of all, when you're a guitar player, those things come to you, we almost
like like prize fighters you know . . . you hear about this this this whatever ah weight
division you're in, you hear about this guy comin' before you get to him you know
(laughs) so ah yeah I heard about him with the David Bowie, and uh, naturally you know I
had been goin' down into Austin around Antone's and that's why he went in there and
started making his noise at first, I think. And ah, his brother finally told me Jimmie
Vaughan that ah, he would let him use all the records that he would play but he was
hiding the ones on me from him and when ah we used to laugh about it before he passed
away, he used to tell me say say something funny say brother every time I listen in the
room I'm hearin' something you're not givin' me and he had to steal the record of mine's
and and uh that's how he got a hold of my licks from the album.
- Buddy Guy noticed how Stevie Vaughan soaked up a variety of blues influences like a
- Well, I got to know him as one-one of my best friends before he passed away and he-he
was so much like myself when he come to that, there wasn't anybody that he didn't pick
up on, you know you could hear Otis Rush in him, you could hear ah B.B. King on him,
you could hear Elmore James on him and he just went and that's what I think makes a
good guitar player, a good horn player whatever. You you get `em all and you put `em
together I guess that's why gumbo tastes so good cause you put everything in it.
["Cold Shot" plays]
- That's "Cold Shot" from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's second album,
1984's "Couldn't Stand the Weather." The key man responsible for signing Stevie Ray
Vaughan and Double Trouble to a recording contract John Hammond, Sr., the legendary
record man who had also discovered Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and
Bruce Springsteen was actually in the studio this time as executive producer. I asked
Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton of Double Trouble about Hammond's role.
- He was kinda like our gyroscope. But he didn't have a great deal of input other than he
always wanted to make sure that the voices were recorded as naturally as possible, for one
was a real big thing with him. And, he was real good at at like pegging when we had
gotten what he thought was our best performance.
- Yeah, even when we didn't think it was, you know.
- For an example, "Tin Pan Alley" was a was a song we recorded as we were just
beginning to get our sounds for that record. And we kinda did a run-through, and we were
just weren't even quite up I don't think on everything with yet having gotten the sounds
and we kinda did this real quiet, probably the quietest version we ever did up to up 'til
that point of "Tin Pan Alley" and we kinda just played through it everyone was real
feelin' relaxed and everything and we ended it and he said he said he said "that's the best
that song will ever sound" and we went "We haven't even got sounds have we?" he goes
"that doesn't matter" he goes "that's the best you'll ever do that song." And we thought
oh well I don't know about that but `um we tried it again I don't know how many more
times we tried to cut it five, six seven times I can't even remember but it never quite
sounded like it did that first time.
- Yeah, he was very wise man. You know, it was great working with him cause you know
he was what, in his seventies then?
["Voodoo Chile" intro in background]
- Yeah seventy-two, seventy-one.
- And yet he was so connected in what's going on today, you know, he had a real subtle
influence that came out to be real important.
- John Hammond was like a seer . . . could like I always thought he could like he could see
things that other people couldn't see. Which was just a kinda a great influence to have
around. Cause he wasn't a technical guy, wasn't an engineer, he was just kind of like a
enigma, an inspiration. Like a lot of other guitar players first he was kind of fascinated by
all the original type things that Hendrix did that hadn't really ever been done before. Plus,
he loved the way he sang. I think he was also fascinated honestly by the fact that the kind
of music that he had done and how many people it had reached around the world being
done by somebody who was black. Even though he tried to see things colorless, it was
like he that was very thought that was very cool that that Hendrix had achieved this...this
artistic notoriety and commercial success and not commercial, just monetary success
overall success like a lot of other people that he always really idolized never...never quite
got to. And Hendrix had and that was great that that was happenin' or it happened for
- Yeah, one thing also, Stevie's the only guitar player I've ever heard do Hendrix. Never
heard anybody else who could do justice to him. I don't know, to me it just seems like uh
part of Jimi Hendrix's spirit was in Stevie. The reason Stevie did Hendrix songs
was...was just out of respect. You know, it wasn't to compare himself with Hendrix or or
show off "Hey, look what I can do" or anything like that. But the main reason Stevie did
that was out of respect cause he loved Jimi Hendrix and there was no other motives for it
other than that.
["Voodoo Chile" ends.]
- Considered career suicide and rock and roll blasphemy, prior to the release of "Couldn't
Stand the Weather," that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's remarkable tribute
to Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." I'm Redbeard. Coming up we'll hear how Stevie Ray
Vaughan`s star rose rapidly while the storm clouds brewed on the horizon. Next, "In the
Studio" with the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
PART ONE - SEGMENT TWO
- Welcome back to "In the Studio," focusing on the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double
Trouble Part 1. I'm Redbeard. "Couldn't Stand the Weather," Stevie's second album
with Double Trouble, sold more than a million copies and catapulted the trio into
headlining gigs and non-stop bookings. His guitar-playing style had several physical
components that facilitated his abilities. Stevie Vaughan had massive forearms and long
bony fingers which he used to massage blistering licks from the heaviest steel guitar
strings and thickest frets available. I asked Austin-based writer, Joe Nick Patoski, co-
author of the biography Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire, how Stevie could
coax music out of grinding so much metal.
- Joe Nick Patoski:
- His contemporaries would have had blood all over their fingertips, and in fact
Stevie had on numerous occasions torn up his fingers in such a way that he rather than ah
go to a lighter gauge string he just whipped out some crazy glue, put them on any cuts or
or torn calluses on his finger and got back out there and played. I think that those physical
abilities to to handle something that tough made his playing sound tougher.
- Prior to recording Double Trouble's third album, Stevie Vaughan lost a dear friend
suddenly. It wouldn't be the only warning sign amidst all of the success. Here is Chris
Layton, followed by Tommy Shannon of Double Trouble.
- Charley Wirz had Charley's Guitar Shop in Dallas and Stevie had known him for quite a
long time and he's just a great guy. Come one of the real people and it was just a great
vibe and Stevie always liked to go in there, Charley have some kind of cool guitar say
"hey, check this out, why don't you go take it and play it for awhile" and he might not
ever ask for it back, or Stevie give it back to him, or he's keep it for a year or whatever
the case might be, he was just this great guy who was a real supporter of the band and real
down home kinda guy and um, when he died it hurt Stevie a lot, cause he felt like he had
lost um just one of those people that there weren't a lot of people like him in the world.
- He wrote one song for Charley, "Life Without You," they were real tight. I remember ah
that Charley had this old fifty-seven P-Bass you know that just meant beautiful bass that
he didn't want to sell and somehow, Stevie talked him out of it ah and Stevie carved
"Soul to Soul" on the bass and gave it to me. You know, I keep that bass at home in a
anvil case in a closet at the very back.
["Life Without You" is played.]
- Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's "Life Without You" from the third album,
"Soul to Soul." It was on this album that the trio experimented with the Texas keyboard
- Ah, his name is Reese Wynans. The idea, he came in, he was just going like to do two or
three songs with us and um Stevie had got real excited over his playin', decided to have
him play on more songs and so it was Stevie's idea, he wanted Reese to join the band.
- We kinda reached the point where I think I think that we went into make "Soul to Soul"
that maybe more so than any other studio record, we were probably less prepared to make
- And having done two records, even though I wanted to, even though I always wanted to
try to figure how can we make a better record than "Couldn't Stand the Weather" or
"Texas Flood" and do it as a trio, and I think at the time Stevie was like and we were all
exhausted, the work had gotten to us, we'd worked a lot when we got in there we realized
how exhausted we were and then but here we were make trying to make a record. And
Stevie, had just prior to that had had talked about " well maybe we should like broaden
the sound" or do something ah a little bit different, add another . . . another texture to the
- After albums in L.A., and New York City, the "Soul to Soul" album was recorded in
Stevie Vaughan's home town of Dallas. But strangely, Stevie stayed in a hotel for months
that it took to record. I wondered aloud to Tommy Shannon, why Stevie hadn't stayed
with his parents.
- And Stevie's frame of mind at that time, I don't think that woulda worked out at all,
cause ah, our addiction was gettin' worse and worse, so I don't think he'd feel real
comfortable around his parents.
- Yeah, it was pretty serious, (clears throat) at the time, he had a pretty serious drug and
drinking problem, it was a pretty indulgent record, it caused a lot of problems. We ended
up spending a lot of time playing ping-pong and just kinda hangin' around and doin'
drugs and drinking and then we'd go play for awhile and then we you know something if
we hit a snag, it was kinda discouraging, we might go back to play ping-pong for a coupla
three hours or and so it was, it was a dark period, it was. Even in the bright spots in when
what the record ended up being, it was a pretty dark period. It was the most expensive
ping-pong I've ever played.
["Lookin' Out the Window" is played.]
["Look at Little Sister" is played.]
- Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, great rock and rhythm and blues from the
album "Soul to Soul," that's "Lookin' Out the Window," and Look at Little Sister." I'm
Redbeard. Next, we'll find out about the Blue Devils, and that's not an opening act. As
we return to the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, "In the Studio."
PART ONE - SEGMENT THREE
- Welcome back to "In the Studio" for The Best of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double
Trouble, Part 1. I'm Redbeard. Everybody's heard of "the blues." But did you ever
wonder where the term for this emotional, often painful always soulful music originated?
The blues is short for blue devils, the personification of temptation that would come late
round midnight to haunt a person's mind and try to steal their soul. And regardless of the
many awards and continued money coming in, make no mistake about it, by summer of
`86, Stevie Vaughan and Tommy Shannon of Double Trouble, had the blues. I asked
Tommy why Double Trouble didn't take some time off of their hectic touring and
- Ah, for one thing, it goes back to us being real high all the time, you know, we really
didn't care for any time off and everything's getting better like you're seeing the awards
come in and it seemed like we were going uphill and everything seemed like it was
- We also developed this, I guess you could call it the machinery you know, we had an
organization and . . . and Stevie was always great about this equality and treatment of
everybody. There's like there was always bills to be paid and we were making more and
more money, there were more and more bills to be paid and it was kinda like these things
like how do you slow the machine down, how do you just bring it to a stop? And I think
we were so wound up in everything that we were doing it become so fast-paced and so
tight as far as everything happening day after day that the thought of like stopping was
like how do you just stop this train that's almost really out of control at that point? And
so we just, we just kept on going.
- And I was running neck to neck with Stevie, I mean we were both way way out there um,
I think I saw it comin' before he did, you know I knew that we were both getting ready to
hit a brick wall and I remember him and I talking about it you know, I think it was in
Dallas and um we I remember we . . . we both started crying and we both got down on the
floor on our knees, and prayed you know to help . . . for help cause we knew we were in
real deep trouble, and um, we got up did some more cocaine, took some more drinks.
["Change It" is played.]
- That's called "Change It" and that comes from the "Soul to Soul" album from Stevie
Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Plans for a huge international tour and a live album
were now added to the burden. Original manager Chesley Milliken was replaced. Maybe
now, Stevie Vaughan can take a break. Stevie Ray Vaughan biographer Joe Nick Patoski.
- By August of `86, Stevie had sought and . . .and gotten new management in the form of
Alex Hodges, Alex had a little more sympathetic ear than, ah, Chesley Milliken did and
he felt more comfortable with him. And this seemed to be the beginning of a very strong
relationship, Alex might afford them the time to take off on the road and relax but after
looking over the books, Alex came to but one conclusion: Guys, we got to go out and
keep working a little bit to get things back in balance.
- Then, tragedy struck at home. Big Jim Vaughan, Stevie's dad, died on August 27th, 1986
while Double Trouble was on tour. Certainly, now they would have to stop. Chris Layton
. . .
- The night we'd buried Big Jim we got on a jet and flew to Montreal and we did a show
that night and I thought how could we be doing this and because I remember when my
father had died it was, it was tragic to me even though I mean I knew he was going to die,
he'd been sick for awhile and but Stevie seemed like headstrong to like "We gotta I gotta
keep working" I remember he said "This is what's, this is what'll get me through, this is
what's good for me today." And so he dealt with it, he dealt with it pretty good, but I felt
he was also kinda compartmentalizing it in saying "I'll take care of whatever is gonna
come at me later."
- Author, Joe Nick Patoski . . .
- Taking stimulants was a means of . . . of keeping the business going. He was running
ragged, but the demands of the business were such that it was time for a new album, once
the album comes out, time to go tour it, and there was just there was no time left to be
Stevie Vaughan, the kid from Dallas, it was time to be Stevie Ray all the time.
- Within a month after the death of his father, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
finally hit bottom.
- He got where if he just had he could wake up in the morning and have one drink and just
be real drunk and um, you know he's like he's real confused he wasn't centered at all.
- God, we were some real small little town in Germany, Stevie and I had been out on the
street and he like kneeled down a couple of times to throw up and it was like blood and
like part of his stomach and stuff coming out, I remember there were no bars, there were
no drugs and there were no bars open and ah he's like "I kinda need a drink, I gotta have
a drink" and they're telling us no that's you don't need that, he said "I know but I gotta
have one," and anyhow he kinda regained himself and went back to the room, went back
to the hotel and that's we were three of us were together and he'd kind of seemed to kind
of come around.
- Out of nowhere, he just started shakin', he turned white and started sweatin' and we had
to call an ambulance.
- I remember that too, I remember looking in-in his eyes it was almost like it was like the
life went out of his eyes for a second, like, if you've ever seen a dead animal's eyes are
like glazed over and there's you can tell there's no life. It's almost like you could see that
there was almost some kind of movie or somethin', some special effect and then it kinda
came back in and he said I -I -I need help. Then I knew that . . . that something had
switched in him and he was ready to take care of his life and . . . and something - God,
some force had brought him back from the . . . the edge - any longer and I don't think he
would have been with us.
- When Stevie Vaughan sought help, it had been waiting all along. The challenge was one
day at a time - one week - one month. A simple chip is awarded to each recovering
alcoholic on each anniversary of sobriety. How important is that chip, symbolically? Just
ask Tommy Shannon.
- Yeah, in the program Stevie and I belonged to, that's when Stevie hit his bottom you
know, and they talk about that a lot. You know, you have to reach bottom, or you just
can't take it anymore. And-and it was true for myself, I didn't have a physical breakdown,
but it-it's kinda like when I saw that in Stevie, I knew the old way of doing things was
gone for both of us. You know, we both checked ourselves in treatment centers the same
day. He was in Georgia, and I was here in Austin. But the thing is there's really a (clears
throat) a relief when you hit that bottom and you know it's kinda like you surrender to the
fact well, it's gotta change, you know, I've gotta start a complete new way of life - or else
die you know you have those two choices.
["Life By the Drop" fades in]
It's like each
year you celebrate on the birthday and uh, I still pick him up a chip every year.
["Life By the Drop" continues.]
- Written by Stevie Ray Vaughan's good friend, Doyle Bramhall, that is "Life By the
Drop," from the Grammy award-winning Stevie Ray Vaughan album, "The Sky is
Crying." I'll be back "In the Studio" after this.
PART TWO - SEGMENT ONE
- Hi, and welcome to "In the Studio." I'm Redbeard, bringing you the stories behind the
greatest rock and roll albums in history. Today, "In the Studio," it's the conclusion at
our two-part look at the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
["Crossfire" starts to play.]
- Chris Layton:
- What I remember-I remember is when he introduced Stevie, introduced him as
the world's greatest guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and when he played his first note,
it sounded like he bent the string farther than there was fretboard, it was like the fretboard
had been like four feet wide, this note just like shot out, and it was like amazing. Cause
once again, I remember thinking just like the very first time I ever heard Stevie it was like
you could hear the band but all of a sudden, you just heard this guitar, and this one note
was like bigger than everything else that was going on and I thought God, I got these chill
bumps it was like this thing ran up my spine I went "Jesus, what is goin' on?" cause I
mean I never heard him play a note like that, quite like that.
["Tick-Tock" starts to play]
Hi. This is Tommy Shannon. And I'm Chris Layton in the studio for the best of Stevie Ray
Vaughan and Double Trouble, Part 2.
- In Part 1 of our "In the Studio" rockumentary on the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan and
Double Trouble, we left off with the harrowing collapse of Stevie while on tour in
Europe. He was hospitalized near death first in London, and then in a substance abuse
rehab center in Georgia. Double Trouble bass player, Tommy Shannon checked into a
similar detox facility in Austin, Texas the very same day. The dream of player guitar for
everyone, everywhere had turned into a nightmare. The gravity of Stevie Vaughan's and
Tommy Shannon's medical condition pulled the large touring and recording machinery
to a merciful halt. Drummer Chris Layton and keyboard player Reese Wynans were
saddled with trying to salvage botched live recordings for a double live album. After a
lengthy hospitalization, both Stevie Vaughan and Tommy Shannon rejoined the band but
it was hardly business as usual. The real test of their newly found sobriety would be the
road. Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton follows Tommy Shannon.
- Tommy Shannon:
- I remember my first gig sober with Stevie and I was terrified . . .
- And I looked out there and saw those people and I mean my heart was goin' like this I
was terrified - I was thinking God, boy I need a drink - but I went ahead and went out
there and went through it and after a period of time you know, I got used to it. And I
mean it felt different, everything about it was different, you know - there wasn't that
sloppy abandon myself and just do all that you know it's kinda like as we went on I had to
discipline myself you know, work on my techniques - sit down and do these petty
exercises and stuff and I started wanting to become a better musician.
- I remember being a little bit frightened but at the same time had this confidence in
everybody always knowin' everybody in this band to be people that didn't do things
unless they really meant them and for the fact that everybody had decided to . . . or said
come to this point in their life to turn their life around that it woulda never gotten there if
they didn't plan on stayin' there. I think you - Tommy had told me that how many people
who become er-er in a recovery don't actually stay there and they fall back into drinking
or doing whatever their drug of choice was - I thought I was kinda amazed by it . . .
- Yeah . . .
- . . . because out of everybody in the organization that entered recovery, everybody's still
there. It's like 100% where it's like the success rate was so . . .
- Yeah . . .
- . . . small, and I thought well it-it didn't surprise me that everybody was still sober
because I just figured wouldn't a done it if he didn't mean it.
- Yeah, it's like when we came back to work, you know being clean and sober at first, um,
two of the guys in our crew had gotten clean and sober also and you know it's like there's
all kinds of support you know the whole emphasis was on-on sobriety you know and used
to be back when we were high all the time there'd be drugs and alcohol and all kinds of
people anybody who had drugs
["Tightrope" fading in]
could get in and it changed from
that to people who had the same goals as us, you know staying clean and sober.
["Tightrope" is played.]
- Heavyweight lyrics that pulled no punches, that's "Crossfire" by Stevie Ray Vaughan
and Double Trouble written by Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton and Reese Wynans for
their first post-recovery album called "In Step." Here's Chris and Tommy.
- And then right at that point when they went in treatment I mean I stopped - I stopped
doing everything for a few months - started working out and gettin' real healthy and
swimmin' and doin' all this stuff and I started feelin' great I thought wow, what a change
from the life that I had been leading.
- One thing, you know, it was gonna be our first album clean and sober and S-Stevie he
was real afraid, you know, of tackling this clean and sober, matter of fact I was too. We
both had the same fear that it might not work - it was very frightening, it really was cause
the back of your head you're goin' well what if this if this doesn't work when you're
sober? you know, it turned out I think to be our best record.
- I asked Double Trouble's rhythm section if they noticed any change in Stevie Ray
Vaughan's performance while recording the "In Step" album.
- I thought he was playin' better, you know, a lot more tasteful and, um, I thought his
vocals improved tremendously - I think his vocals on that record were definitely the best.
- Yeah, his-his vo-his whole scene got incredibly better and his guitar playing did too. He
got more concise what he really felt - what he felt and what he was able to say with his
guitar was more connected then it ever had been. I mean he would say that too beforehand
it was like he would like just kinda do all kind he could do anything it always sounded
good and that's what he said he would you know tend to do - you know play too many
notes or pl - whatever and maybe really wasn't what he f - wanted to do but he connected
up with everything - all his feelings and thoughts everything connected much more with
what actually came out in making that record.
["Let Me Love You Baby" is played.]
- Oh yeah, that's Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble from "In Step" with "Let Me
Love You Baby," written by the great blues man, the late great Willie Dixon. In talking
with writer Joe Nick Patoski, co-author of the Stevie Ray Vaughan biography, "Caught
in the Crossfire," I mentioned what Buddy Guy told me about the importance of Stevie's
work. Buddy Guy told me something, Buddy Guy and this is a quote, he said "Stevie Ray
Vaughan had a skeleton key that unlocked all the doors for the rest of us."
- Joe Nick Patoski:
- And that's the truth, there's no question about that these-these guys were they
were in a period of decline an-and really not since the Filmore scene in the late 60's when
Albert King and B.B. King and Buddy Guy and Junior Wells folks like that had really had
their uh-uh heyday with as far as reaching a-about as broad an audience as they ever had -
it had been on the decline since then and, um, work was harder they were-they were
resigned to either playing clubs or working the chitlin' circuit for those ah few older
blacks that were still
["Tightrope" fades in]
smitten with the blues, but they had kinda
fallen out of favor with-with this larger audience and Stevie opened the door for `em
["Tightrope" is played.]
- Walkin' the "Tightrope" from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's "In Step," and
written by two who should know, Doyle Bramhall with Stevie Vaughan. I'm Redbeard -
next we'll hear how one of Stevie Vaughan's dreams to record a whole album with his
brother Jimmie became a reality "In the Studio" with the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan,
PART TWO - SEGMENT TWO
- Welcome back "In the Studio" for the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan Part 2. I'm Redbeard.
If there was one single motivating factor in young Stevie Vaughan embracing the guitar,
it had to be his big brother Jimmie. He had the first guitar - he had the first amplifier.
Jimmie had the blues records that entranced little Stevie and it was Jimmie who first left
home and made quite a reputation as a guitar slinger with serious chops. Even after
Double Trouble had sold millions of albums themselves, Tommy Shannon and Chris
Layton recall Stevie's opinion of big brother, Jimmie Vaughan.
- He adored Jimmie. He said Jimmie was his number one influence.
- Yeah, he did he-he loved everything that Jimmie did "oh wow man, he goes that's so cool
check that out" you know it was like you know Jimmie couldn't do any wrong.
- Yeah, I remember him sayin' "Yup, that's still my big brother, you know, Jimmie be out
- `Member Stevie went "Man I get up there" and he goes "I played like a million notes and
then Jimmie steps up there and plays like one note and knocks everybody down in the
whole club" you know he goes "whoosh, man, that's cool."
[Tommy & Chris laugh]
- So how did they feel when Stevie Vaughan announced his plans to record an entire album
with his brother?
- At first, you know, I started thinkin' maybe they were gonna to join a band together you
know, and little fears like that crept in but-but all in all, you know, it didn't really bother
me that much, you know, cause I knew Stevie wanted to play in our band, I know that,
you know he loved doin' that.
- Yeah, I had-I had that same fear for a minute `cause I thought oh Jimmie, I said boy you
know big brother, he takes precedence over everybody when it comes to music I thought
wow what if they decide to get a band and they don't want us or you know somethin' like
that you never-you never know what might happen but, um, at the same time too, I know
that Stevie'd always wanted to make a record with his brother - always do something that
was like a recorded creative statement involving his-he and his brother and so, I was real
happy about that `cause I mean reflecting on it, it was, um, he got to do that, he wanted to
do it, I was glad that that happened.
["Telephone Song" is played.]
- That's "Telephone Song" from Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan's "Family Style" album
with a song co-written by Doyle Bramhall. Big Doyle's importance to the music of Stevie
Ray Vaughan cannot be overstated. Bramhall had influenced Stevie's singing style long
before Double Trouble even formed. And later, Big Doyle Bramhall would write or co-
write many of Stevie's most popular songs. Here's author, Joe Nick Patoski.
- Doyle is one of a the great role models of-of for Stevie Ray Vaughan of probably more so
than any one other than ah Jimmie Vaughan. Stevie was never a very prolific songwriter
and in fact I mean he was as much a ah ah an interpreter as he was a ah an original
composer. And I think when push came to shove and it was time to come up with some
material, he found great comfort in Doyle - things clicked and I think that was the one
area where ah, there were some-some real positive benefits out of the "Soul to Soul"
session as it really solidified his relationship with Doyle as a ah as-as a songwriting team.
It continued into the en- uh up in to the end and I think, ah, Doyle was also an inspiration
is ah ah someone who had ah overcome his chemical dependencies. He'd done it before it
was cool. When Stevie decided to ah get his own head straight, Doyle was there to offer
not only ah ah support as a lyricist but also as a as a friend in ah, um, someone who had
walked a mile in-in Stevie's shoes.
["Long Way From Home" is played.]
- You can hear that they were havin' fun - that's Jimmie and Stevie Vaughan with "Long
Way From Home" from the album, "Family Style." Comin' up next, you'll hear the
recollections of Double Trouble's Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton along with blues
man Buddy Guy and the legendary Eric Clapton - all four of whom played with Stevie
Ray Vaughan in his final performance. I'm Redbeard "In the Studio" for the best of
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Part 2.
PART TWO - SEGMENT THREE
- You're back "In the Studio" for the best of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Part 2. I'm Redbeard.
The Family style album by the Vaughan brothers had been recorded by the summer of
1990, so Double Trouble was free to hit the road again fresh, rested and tapping newly
found energy and sobriety. Two of the marquee dates were back-to-back nights with Eric
Clapton and Robert Cray at a large open-air amphitheater between Chicago and
Milwaukee known as Alpine Valley. Because the concert site was 50 miles from Chicago,
where all the bands were staying, helicopters were used to shuttle the bands and their
tour managers over the concert traffic, in and out of Alpine Valley, in the Wisconsin
countryside. Blues man Buddy Guy was there, at the invitation of all three guitarists on
the bill. I asked Buddy Guy if he saw Stevie Ray Vaughan play on that second night.
- Buddy Guy:
- Well first of all, I had to see if I-I'd saw from the first lick to the last one because
I-I actually wasn't on the show - they invited me up there just as a guest, so I was sittin'
on stage from start to finish. And I've seen him play on many nights and this particular
night he played incredible well, he played licks that had neither one of us heard before -
something about that night so special I don't know if that's because of his death or what
but there just something special about that night. I wish they had a recorded it because
while Eric was playing he was standing backstage talkin' to me and he said "Man, you
know, we gotta get you into the studio, we don't have nobody to steal licks off no mo' so
we gonna get you a rec-recording contract that we have to go in there and do it an-an-an
do it ourselves" and him and Eric and Robert Cray and, ah, his brother an all them put
down around me sayin' you'll be recorded before the year is out.
- Headliner Eric Clapton saw Stevie Ray Vaughan's performance that fateful night too.
Like Buddy Guy, Clapton couldn't help but notice that Stevie was in a zone that night. I
asked Eric Clapton to describe what would be Stevie's last performance with Double
- Eric Clapton:
- Oh, beyond anything that I could even describe,
["Lenny" begins to play softly in the background]
I think, um, the best way to describe it was just to sit to-to be to have
been in my shoes in the dressing room watching the monitor and so I could sit in my
dressing room with the door open and hear him from the stage and see him on the TV,
knowing I had to go out later and play, and what was happening was I was actually so
bowled over and-and so in love with this guy that was playing on stage from the heart
completely, you know that I started to feel ashamed of what I was gonna go on and do
cause I was gonna go out there and do Cream songs and do little dis-different kinds of
music and here was one guy playing one kind of music in a one kind of way and it made
me kind of feel "well God are you ever gonna be like this", you know that's the way I felt,
"are you ever gonna get to THAT point, the point you are watching right now" and I don't
know if any-that many people ever do - that many people ever do - `cause I enjoy in my
life playing all kinds of stuff you know I'm not-I don't I-know I play blues probably
easier than-than- than anything else, you know everything else is bit of a-a learning
experience but I do dabble around in other areas, your rock and roll and country and this
and that and songwriting, but, um, none of it has that oneness that Stevie Ray had.
- Ah, in your experience ah, have you seen or heard others get to that point where the
emotion that's in the music is almost palpable you almost can touch?
- Very rarely, very rarely. And-and very you know usually it's-it's a question of balance a
question of how many things there are in the mix you know whether the-the-the person is
in good mental health, whether in good physical shape, whether their motives are clear,
you know all of these things that really wrap up the character and the embodiment of the
human being with this gift and at state you know the state he's in at that time when you're
seeing the performance with all those things in-in-in question, it's a very rare experience.
Now Stevie Ray on that night and many nights before, I'm sure, had all of these things,
had all of these things in control and was master of EVERYTHING, everything, and now
th-you know there are a lot of other people I've seen who have some of them together, but
then maybe they had a couple of drinks before they went on, or maybe they got a
headache, or maybe they you know they're tired or maybe the-they're in great physical
and mental shape and-and living a good life but they haven't got the right musicians in
the band or the songs aren't right you see now there's so-so many elements involved and
and when we when I when I recall that night there's no, there was nothing required there
was no there was nothing missing there was no improve-no room for improvement.
["Lenny" stops playing in the background]
- Here is Eric Clapton's actual introduction of his musical guest at Alpine Valley that
night August 26th 1990, for the encore of "Sweet Home Chicago.
- I'd like to bring out, to join me, ah, in truth, the best guitar players in the entire world
man. Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan Robert Cray and Jimmie Vaughan.
- Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton watched from side stage while each of these
guitarists took the spotlight in turn, then it was Stevie who stepped up to the plate.
- What I remember-I remember is when he introduced Stevie, introduced him as the
world's greatest guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and when he played his first note, it
sounded like he bent the string farther than there was fretboard, it was like the fretboard
had been like four feet wide, this note just like shot out, and it was like amazing. Cause
once again, I remember thinking just like the very first time I ever heard Stevie it was like
you could hear the band but all of a sudden, you just heard this guitar, and this one note
was like bigger than everything else that was going on. Just like that just like just like the
first time I ever heard him it was like right then it was like this big note and there it was
and he really and I thought God, I got these chill bumps it was like this thing ran up my
spine I went "Jesus, what is goin' on?" cause I mean I never heard him play a note like
that, quite like that.
- After the last note of the guitar superstar's summit, Chris Layton had the opportunity to
chat with Stevie backstage while they waited for the helicopters to begin ferrying the
large contingent of musicians, tour managers, agents and assistants back to Chicago.
The dense fog that had rolled into Alpine Valley wasn't really a topic of conversation.
- The conversation was actually very light, there was nothing heavy in it- it was just like gr-
this is a great coupla nights and wasn't it great to be here and talked about (clears throat)
the record that he and Jimmie just made, he said yeah - talked about how they had a lot of
fun and that was exciting - he was looking forward to that comin' out and lookin' forward
to us makin' another record an, he was in great spirits I mean we just had two great nights
and we talked about all kinds of stuff, talked about the son that my wife and I were
getting ready to have - we didn't know it was a boy - but just anything and everything, we
talked for like I guess almost 30 minutes. Then he-he got up he said I'm-I'm gonna go
back down to the dressing room for a minute and I don't know, five, maybe five minutes
or so later, he came back up and he had his-his uh jacket on, he had his bags and he kinda
I think he was just gonna walk not right by me cause he was at that path, but he was
making this turn and I said "Hey" I said, " what are you doin'?" And he said "I'm gonna
go back to Chicago." I said "Well, now? And he said, "Yeah, I-I gotta get back I want to
call J-Janna" who was his girlfriend who was in New York
["Tick Tock" begins to play]
and I thought `Jeez you could actually call her anywhere and then call her later,' this is
what I was thinkin' but he said he turned he kinda took another step and then he turned
around and said he said "call me when you get back." Then he said "I love you" and
kinda gave me that wink of the eye that he would do and then he was gone and that was
the last time I saw him and he just disappeared into the night.
["Tick Tock" is played.]
- The Vaughan Brothers from "Family Style." Tommy Shannon, Double Trouble's bass
player had shuttled back to Chicago by helicopter even before Clapton's encore while
Layton had left on yet another chopper much later than Stevie Vaughan. I asked Tommy
when he first knew that something was terribly wrong.
["Little Wing" starts to play in background.]
- I didn't find out `'til the next morning and our manager Alex Hodges called me, whew - I
mean-I mean is a I can't put in words how I felt you know, he said one of the helicopters
went down last night that Stevie was in and they reported no survivors and, um, that's
probably the worst moment of my li-entire life, I mean we shared things we'd never tell
anybody else - ever. You know, he was the best friend I ever had.
- Tommy called me, he said that we needed to have a-a band meeting in Skip Rickert's
room our tour manager I thought this is something's not right - there's you don't have
band meetings it was real late we didn't get back to the hotel 'til like God after five maybe
5:30 in the morning from the flight and it was a-a little while later and I walked in
everybody was starting to assemble and I thought this is just wrong.
- Yeah, seven o'clock in the morning.
- The phone rang, we got on and I think Alex was, well as I remember it, he was trying to
be as gentle as possible, said he was with Roger Forrester, Eric's manager and that-that
one of the helicopters, the one that Stevie was on, didn't make it back, it was 98% - that's
the way I remember him sayin' - 98% certain that there was no survivors and I thought
this can't be. I remember I went and ran and got security and made them open Stevie's
door just to prove that this was like a-a nightmare. `Member went and opened the door
and the door opened up and there's the bed was untouched - he had never made it back.
The radio was on like when they do turn-down service and I heard the first report of it
over the radio right then as I was standin' by his bed and I uh . . .
- Three of Eric Clapton's closest associates along with the helicopter pilot never made it
back either. It was August 27, exactly four years to the day that Stevie's father had
passed away. But it was also three years, 317 days and 40 minutes of redemption and
during that time, Stevie made the greatest music of his career. Who knows how many
lives he changed by his courageous victory over substance abuse? There are some of us
who truly believe that there are fates worse than death. When I think of Stevie Vaughan's
too-short time among us, I'm reminded of a quote from my youth: A coward dies a
thousand times but the valiant tastes of death but once.
["Little Wing" is played.]
- Written by Jimi Hendrix and performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble,
that's "Little Wing," from the Grammy award-winning album, "The Sky is Crying,"
compiled by Stevie's big brother Jimmie. I'm Redbeard. We'll be back "In the Studio"
[Back to Bob's SRV page]