Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Robert Gish MUSC 153 Professor...

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Robert Gish MUSC 153 Professor Gunderman The day my father gave me my first guitar, a tobacco-sunburst finished Fender Stratocaster, I asked him, “Who was the greatest guitar player ever?” My father, a guitarist with experience in blues and rock journalism, furrowed his brow and said, “That’s not a question to which I can give one answer, but I’ll give you two: Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan .” Stevie Ray Vaughan played with a level of intensity and ability that can only be matched by a handful of artists in the history of rock . He played the Texas Blues, a sub-genre of Electric Blues, which broke the boundaries of blues and crossed into rock-and-roll . Born on October 3, 1954, Vaughan was already playing in blues clubs by the age of thirteen where he was able to meet the blues idols who greatly impacted his playing style . 1 His playing style and stage presence would evolve into a whole new beast over his twenty-three year career . Fueling this evolution was Vaughan’s innovative use of technology to create a sound that artists today still seek to emulate . His work sparked the Blues Revival and influenced countless other rock musicians . From his birth into poverty, his rise to fame, and his tragic death in a Helicopter crash, Stevie Ray Vaughan lived what could be called the quintessential life of a rock hero . All of these factors: his musical ability and creativity, his technological innovations, his 1 Crawford, Bill and Joe Patoski. Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire . Boston: Little, Brown, 1993. p. 8.
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incorporation of the technique of artists before him, his inspiration of artists after him, and his epic life would make him a valuable addition to the History of Rock curriculum . Vaughan took the blues and Texas Swing and colored it with Rock and Roll with an unparallel talent . His debut album, Texas Flood (1983), was a triumph that filled the airwaves across blues, rock, and even pop stations . The album reached #38 and #64 on Pop Album Charts and the Billboard 200 respectively . 2 Although he was considered an electric blues artist, the single “Pride and Joy” reached top twenty in mainstream rock charts . Mirroring the style and ability of Hendrix, Vaughan’s lightning fingers frequently played simultaneous lead and rhythm parts . 3 The comparisons to Hendrix are numerous, and Vaughan frequently covered Hendrix’s songs . One of these covers is the song “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” which the guitar prodigy Kenny Wayne Shepherd described in the following quotation: This is pretty much the guitar anthem of all time. From the amazing opening riff to the way he breaks it down in the middle and gets funky, the whole thing is incredible. There are things Jimi did on the guitar that humans just can’t do. You can try all day, even if you’re playing the right notes, it’s not the same.
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Stevie Ray Vaughan - Robert Gish MUSC 153 Professor...

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