Frontier Archaeology, vol. 16: Stevie Ray Vaughan

(Each Thursday, we celebrate music before 1990)

The Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial Statue in Austin, TX

It’s difficult for those of us who picked up a six-string at a young age to evaluate Stevie Ray Vaughan objectively.  Others might argue that his music is derivative, banal, even (gasp) boring.  And perhaps they are correct.  But for those who spent time listening to records and trying to distinguish Stratocasters from Telecasters, SRV was a god.  Like a transcendent athlete or a brilliant prose stylist, Vaughan showed us what we knew was possible but never imagined we’d actually see or hear.  From the release of his debut Texas Flood in 1983 to his untimely death in a helicopter crash twenty years ago tomorrow, SRV re-established the blues as a legitimate American art form.  His passing at the age of 35 was a genuine tragedy, but his spirit lives on in the heart and mind of every 12-year-old boy whose ever blistered his fingers trying to play “Pride and Joy.”  R.I.P., SRV.

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