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100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

7

Stevie Ray Vaughan


Stevie Ray Vaughan
Photo: Getty
7/100

With the blinding stratocaster fireworks on his debut album, Texas Flood, in 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan kicked off a blues-rock renaissance when the music needed one most: the heyday of hair-spray metal and synth-pop. Until 1982, Vaughan's fame was limited to clubs in central Texas, where he perfected a brass-knuckled soul influenced by Jimi Hendrix's psychedelia and the funky twang of Lonnie Mack. But after David Bowie saw him at the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival (a rare gig for an unsigned act), Vaughan was invited to play on Bowie's Let's Dance. By the late 1980s, he was filling arenas with his longtime band Double Trouble. On August 27th, 1990, Vaughan died in a helicopter crash in East Troy, Wisconsin, after leaving a venue where he had just jammed with his guitarist brother Jimmie, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jeff Healey and Robert Cray. He was thirty-five.

 
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