I had discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan in an article around December 1982.
This was the winter before Bowie’s Let’s Dance album came out with his guitar work. There was a small mention in Rolling Stone magazine about Mick Jagger and Keith Richard having this guitar player named Stevie Ray Vaughan at a party they had. I thought if this guy was good enough for the Glimmer Twins, he’s good enough for me.
Shortly after that, at the famous Bottom Line club in New York City, there was a bill of Bryan Adams, and opening was Stevie Ray. The ticket price was $7.50. I wanted to go see this guy, but none of my friends wanted to risk the money.
2 years later, I am standing out side the stage door at Carnegie Hall. I didn’t even have to practice. I’m hanging out with Dr. John and some other people who look too cool not to be musicians.
Just took at this friendly guy in red leather cowboy boots with the southern accent.
Now this was 1985. I was young, red leather boots, let’s just say I was not as enlightened as people are today. Who was this guy?
I was waiting for SRV. I had met him a few times before. This time I had a few pictures I had taken on him live at Pier 84 in New York. I met many of the artists who played there. Stevie Ray was the person I had the best conversations with at Pier 84, other than these guys from East LA I’d meet in 1987.
Finally a very “relaxed” Stevie Ray Vaughan walks over from his hotel across the street. I say hello and ask him to sign this photo. I always shot concerts with Fuji film. I liked the color much better than Kodak, more vibrant as you can see in the photo.
Stevie grabs the picture and starts to turn it upside down and says me, what is this?
Tommy Shannon his bass player says “Stevie it’s you” Stevie laughed and grabbed my sharpie and scrawled his signature. Tommy signed it and they were off. Chris wasn’t there, and it took me 26 years to get the photo signed by him but that’s another story.
I had have always loved this pic. To me it expressed his energy just flowing all around him. I am glad even just for a few seconds something i did made Stevie Ray Vaughan feel something.
The group of people went in. I took my seat in the first loge to stage right. Even the story of those tickets was an adventure.
I was at Carnegie for day of sale about 10th in line. The box office never set a limit on tickets that day…..
The box office opens, people are coming away with great seats -first rows. I am 3 people from window. The person in front of me says how many seats are left on the floor, ok I’ll them…. scalping at it’s best right.
I was livid.
Stevie Ray be damned I wanted blood. I looked at the honest group of fans behind me, and pleaded, lets mug him grab his seats, take 2 each and rip up the rest. Ahh the anger of youth. I was alone and ended up with first loge right by the stage but still….
Dr John is onstage warming up with Tommy Shannon, Chris Whipper Layton et al, and um, there is that guy in the red leather boots. Stevie strides onstage starts to play and introduces his brother Jimmie Vaughan of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Guess what Jimmie was wearing…. yeah red leather boots.
It was a special night. Why I didn’t buy a shirt ill never know.
My strongest memory of that might besides Jimmie’s red boots, was Stevie coming out and sitting on the edge of the stage alone feet dangling playing Lenny.
We all knew it was a special night, the day before his 35th birthday.
I had a few conversations with Stevie from 1983 until 1987. I always considered myself his New York welcoming committee. Pier 84, Lincoln Center, Beacon Theater, Brenden Bryne Arena.
We talked about an Allman brothers cover band I heard he was in, his keyboardist Reese Wyman playing with Duane Allman, Bowie. Stevie was always friendly warm and polite.
I did have one favorite conversation. It goes back to the Bottom Line.
As he was doing soundcheck walking around the seats in the Pier, we walked together and chatted. I confessed that I will always regret that I missed him at that show at the Bottom Line back in 82.
Stevie Ray paused, put his arm around me and said,
” don’t worry it sucked”
I said, you sucked?
He laughed and said, ” no the sound system sucked.”
I never appreciated guitar until I heard him.
Happy birthday Stevie