From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–
Life has now taken me to the great city of Austin, Texas. You can usually find me walking next to Lady Bird Lake early Saturday morning,completely stuck in my own head, and with my son in tow. He’s a bit of a freak for guitars, and on one of our walks he asked me, “Who is that statue of the man with the guitar?” As we walked closer a smile crossed my face…
It has been twenty years since we lost Stevie Ray Vaughan in a helicopter crash– arguably one of the greatest blues guitarists ever, and one of the greatest musicians to come out of the Austin music scene. He was only 35 when he passed away, and was on a high from being clean and sober for four years. Stevie was making some of the best music of his life and then– gone in an instant.
Stevie Ray Vaughan played in my hometown of Chicago quite a bit while I was growing up. Any serious blues player will tell you that all roads lead to the Windy City– and Stevie was no different. He had a reverence for the blues and its history. Stevie was heavily influenced by Chicago legend Buddy Guy (who along with Albert King, Otis Rush, Lonnie Mack, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Jimi Hendrix really sculpted his style) and would show up at Buddy’s club Legends to jam after hours when he was in town. I was lucky enough to see him play there several times. You could tell that Dallas-born Stevie had cut his teeth playing the small clubs around Austin– he really liked that environment and usually played some great stuff. You had to be willing to stay well into the morning hours to catch Stevie jam with Buddy and any number of Chicago’s finest players, but it was well worth it. Well before the days of cell phone cameras and YouTube, most of these sessions will only live in the memory of those of us that were there to witness two of the greatest guitar legends take turns on classics– like Born Under a Bad Sign, Red House, Not Fade Away, and Mannish Boy.
I often pass Stevie’s statue on my Saturday walks, and wonder if others still stop and reflect on his greatness. Do they know how truly special this guy was? Sadly, time has a way of dulling our memory, and we can forget. Man, I hope not. I feel blessed to have seen Stevie play guitar back then. His incredible sound was pure Blues and pure Texas.
Eli M. Getson
The legendary Texas Bluesman and guitar great, Stevie Ray Vaughan, going behind the back.