|Courtesy Lisa Seifert|
Every August for me is a reminder of how brief and wonderful life really is. In a span of 7 days in August of 1990, I lost my father and the musician that helped me through his illness, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Although I didn't know then, I know now why Stevie had such a lasting impact on me and why his music was like a security blanket in my twelve year old mind full of questions, angst and sadness. Stevie had been to hell and back and his takeaway was that Love was the answer. He'd seen greed and known addiction, but love seemed to be his saving grace. Love yourself and love one another was his constant message.
Tonight, I made the realization that not only is it 23 years since his passing, but I am the exact same age that he was when he boarded that helicopter in Alpine Valley. Knowing that he had almost seen death, overcome addiction, been divorced, played Carnegie Hall when he was 30, had Eric Clapton calling him the greatest guitar player, fell in love, and inspired so many that they could overcome anything by the age of 35 is simply incredible to me. To be that good, I understand how hard he had to work, how dedicated he was and how much he loved music.
To this day, I still chase the ghost of Stevie Ray. Every artist I see thinking, I don't want to miss the opportunity again. I was twelve, it wasn't like I was given much choice, but he is one of less than a handful of artists that I feel that way about. He inspired me and speaks to me that much.
Stevie also reminds me of those last months with a man I knew so little about. Sitting in my room, not far from my ill father, I would listen to Stevie sing and play from the heart. It's a connection that will be forever.
Not one video (that anyone knows of) exists of Stevie's last show. There are several taper recordings of those final songs this legend played. Rumor is he played the best he ever played that night - the sound coming out of his guitar larger than the valley itself.
The last song Stevie ever played, he played it with his heroes, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and his brother Jimmy Vaughan.
It was fitting that Stevie would play Sweet Home Chicago with his heroes who in turn would look to him, as theirs.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, I cannot thank you enough for what you have given me as a gift. It isn't just your songs, its your lessons of love, hope and understanding. You also give me the soundtrack to the priceless memories of my father.
Stevie Ray Vaughan set list from Alpine Valley WI August 26, 1990
- Collins' Shuffle
- The House is Rockin'
- The Things (That) I Used To Do
- Let Me Love You Baby
- Leave My Girl Alone
- Pride and Joy
- Wall of Denial
- Riviera Paradise
- Couldn't Stand the Weather
- Goin' Down
- Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
- Sweet Home Chicago (Clapton, Cray, Guy, Vaughan)