Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remembering Stevie Ray

It's hard to believe, but today marks the 18th anniversary of the passing of the legendary blues rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was killed August 27th, 1990 when the helicopter he was a passenger of slammed into a hillside at the Alpine Valley ski resort just outside East Troy, Wisconsin. Vaughan, who was just 36 years old, had just finished a co headlining show at the Alpine Valley Music Theater with Eric Clapton and Robert Cray with special guests Buddy Guy and Stevie's brother Jimmie Vaughan.

Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton recalls his last conversation with Vaughan backstage. He then remembers Vaughan saying he had to call his girlfriend, Janna Lapidus, in Chicago, before heading out the door to the helicopters, which had been arranged for flight (through Omni Flights) by Skip Rickert, Double Trouble's tour manager.

The musicians had expected a long bus ride back to Chicago. However, Vaughan was informed by a member of Clapton's crew that three seats were open on one of the helicopters returning to Chicago with Clapton's crew, enough for Vaughan, his brother Jimmie, and Jimmie's wife Connie. It turned out there was only one seat left; Vaughan requested it from his brother, who obliged. At 12:44 a.m. pilot Jeffrey Browne guided the helicopter off the ground. Moments after takeoff the helicopter crashed into a ski slope and all five on board were killed. Although the crash occurred only 0.6 miles from takeoff, it went unnoticed by those at the concert site.

Here's a fantastic version of "Riviera Paradise"filmed live in Amarillo, Texas on October 27th, 1989, just 10 months before his very untimely death :

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