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10 Great Stevie Ray Vaughan Tributes

25 years after his death, the blues hero’s sound lives on

John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr

John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr. perform songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio on April 18th, 2015.

Kevin Kane/WireImage/Getty

When Stevie Ray Vaughan died 25 years ago today, he was on the verge of a second act comparable to his friend Eric Clapton's. After years of substance abuse, during which he managed to record three stunning albums of virtuosic Stratocaster sizzle with his longtime band Double Trouble, Vaughan was clean and sober, newly engaged and ready to rumble following the release of his critically acclaimed recovery-rock classic, In Step. A musician whose driving, celebratory sound disguised anxious shadows, Vaughan seemed on the verge of finally making all his dreams a reality. Fate had other plans, but Vaughan's influence endures in the musicians responsible for these 10 terrific cover versions of his music.

John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr. perform songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Bill Carter and the Blame, “Crossfire”

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble topped the Mainstream Rock singles chart only once, with 1989's "Crossfire," the searing man-on-the-run megahit from In Step. With SRV embargoed from writing or recording until his divorce from Lenny was finalized (a process that took two years), the Double Trouble trio wrote the music while Austin songwriting spouses Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth supplied the lyrics. Their words, according to Ellsworth, reflect SRV's daily struggle during his recovery. Carter — who's written for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Palmer, John Anderson and Johnny Depp — also leads long-running band the Blame, who went to town on the tune during a 2012 TV-studio performance featuring a five-guitar army that included a nearly hidden Cindy Cashdollar on slide.

John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr. perform songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Stanley Jordan, “Riviera Paradise”

Producer Jim Gaines nearly ran out of tape while recording Vaughan's perfect first take of In Step's nine-minute closing instrumental "Riviera Paradise." Vaughan's jazziest track is a slow, shimmering slice of heaven, with gorgeous solos from both the guitarist and Double Trouble keyboardist Reese Wynans. Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan gave it a glorious reinterpretation on Crossfire: A Salute to Stevie Ray, replacing Vaughan's cascading lines with his own signature 10-fingered keyboard tapping.

John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II and Gary Clark Jr. perform songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Quintin Golonka, “Life by the Drop”

Longtime Vaughan friend/writing partner Doyle Bramhall and his wife Barbara Logan co-wrote the deeply felt track that concludes Vaughan's posthumous album The Sky Is Crying. The title of the tune, which Vaughan performs accompanied only by his 12-string acoustic guitar, seems to suggest the needle and the damage done. But Bramhall said the song actually concerns his long friendship with SRV, who was living "on the top" while Bramhall (a former member of Austin's Chessmen alongside Stevie's brother Jimmie) suffered on the street. They both made it eventually, but only one would survive. SRV was "living the dream," according to "Life by the Drop," and the dream looms far in the distance for eight-year-old Quintin Golonka, who made his live debut accompanying his guitar teacher's vocal in an oddly compelling YouTube video, summing up the eternal appeal of the blues.