Monday, August 25, 2014

A Man Who Knew the Blues Too Well


"He just sort of kicked everybody's ass and nobody seemed to fight back," Jimmie remembered. "Stevie was on a cloud or something." Buddy Guy didn't know where it was coming from, just that whatever Stevie was doing worked a strange number on even him. "I had goose bumps," he said.  August 26, 1990 Alpine Valley Wisconsin

Twenty seven years ago, on a foggy summer night, Stevie played at the  Alpine Valley Amphitheater in Wisconsin  before boarding a helicopter just after midnight that would never land at its final destination. Stevie left this world at the top of his game. He played the last song of that night with his heroes, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and his brother Jimmie. He played the last song of his life surrounded by guitar players who would soon revere him as one of the best blues guitar players that ever lived.

Stevie Ray, I believe, was so good at playing the blues because he'd been to hell and came back to tell the world about it. He overcame addictions and a broken heart and was proud to tell anyone that God got him through it. He  believed that music could heal - that music was a part of everyone's soul. I think that is so true.

For me, it's personal. It's also been twenty four years since my dad passed, and Stevie Ray helped me stay strong through tough days at the hospital and nights when the house seemed so empty and life so alone. You could hear the heartbreak, soul and passion in Stevie's guitar. Tin Pan Alley, Rivera Paradise and Lenny speak for him. Life Without You  was my song of mourning, You Better Leave My Little Girl Alone was my security blanket and  Riviera Paradise was my song of meditation.

I think that saddest part about Stevie's death, was that he thought he had made it from the bottom, from where he should have died. He was clean, in love and playing the best he had ever played. He won the dance with the devil - only to be taken away to be with the angels.

I wish I had seen him play, to hear those notes sing in person, to watch his hands blur with the speed at which he played his emotions on his guitar Number 1. I cannot believe it has been so long since that day. I still cannot believe what emotions his music still brings to me, what memories they provoke.

Thank you, Stevie Ray Vaughan. You have unwittingly become a legend, one of the best blues guitarists that ever lived, an inspiration to those who face addictions and want to recover. To memorialize you, over 100 scholarships  have been made possible for students who want music education in the Dallas area through events attended by fans such as myself. You will always be remembered.

Thank you for sharing your gift of music with us - we will never forget you.


"In the song 'Tick Tock,' he sings the refrain, 'Remember.' And what Stevie was trying to tell me, and I guess all of us.. he was trying to tell me, 'Nile, remember my music. Remember how important music is to all of us. And just remember that it's a gift.' Stevie was truly touched by the hand of God. He had a powerful gift. And through his music he can'make us all remember things that are very, very important, like love and family. " ~ Nile Rodgers

No comments:

Post a Comment