SRV – short bio

If you would like the 572-page version of Stevie’s biography, please order Stevie Ray Vaughan: Day by Day, Night After Night from this website (late 2022). For those with a more casual interest, here you go. No charge!

October 3, 1954: Stephen Ray Vaughan is born at Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

October 3 or December 25, 1961: Stevie, age 7, gets his first guitar, a Sears toy guitar with western motif.  Among the first songs Stevie learns to play are “Wine, Wine, Wine” and “Thunderbird” by the Nightcaps.

ca. 1963: Stevie buys his first record, Lonnie Mack’s “Wham,” and plays it so many times his father breaks it. About this time, Stevie gets his first electric guitar, a hand-me-down from Jimmie.

Summer 1966: Doyle Bramhall hears SRV playing for first time (“Jeff’s Boogie”) and tells the shy boy not to stop playing. Doyle will be instrumental in Stevie’s vocal and songwriting development.

ca. 1967: Stevie’s band plays an outdoor gig at Lee Park in Dallas and begins to advance beyond school dances and private parties. By 1969 he is introduced to the Austin music scene which is more tolerant of the blues.

ca.  Summer 1970: After falling into a barrel of grease while working for a fast food joint, Stevie quits and devotes his working life to music. Stevie forms his first relatively long-lasting band, Blackbird, with Stevie and Kim Davis (guitars), Christian dePlicque (vocals), Roddy Colonna & John Huff (drums) , Noel Deis (organ), and David Frame (bass).

1971: Stevie’s first studio recordings, sitting in with the band Cast of Thousands for a high school compilation album called  A New Hi. The two songs showcase 17-year-old Stevie’s already burgeoning talent.

December 31, 1971: Stevie quits high school and moves to Austin with his band, Blackbird. Home base is a nightclub on the outskirts of town called the Rolling Hills Country Club. It would later become the Soap Creek Saloon, where Stevie honed his talent to a razor’s edge over the next seven years.

 ca. late 1972: Stevie joins the rock band Krackerjack for a few months, playing with future Double Trouble bassist Tommy Shannon for the first time.

March 14, 1973: Marc Benno adds Stevie to his band the Nightcrawlers which is recording an album in Hollywood for A&M Records. The album is not released. The band also features Doyle Bramhall who begins a 17-year songwriting partnership with Stevie.

1974: In Austin, Stevie obtains the beat-up Fender Stratocaster® know as “Number One,” his trademark guitar for the rest of his career.

December 31, 1974: Stevie joins the popular Austin band Paul Ray & the Cobras, averaging approximately five gigs a week for the next two-and-a-half years.

February 7, 1977: The Cobras release a 45rpm record, Stevie’s second appearance on vinyl.

March 1977: The Cobras win “Band of the Year” in an Austin music poll. Stevie is listed as “Stevie Ray Vaughan, though it does not appear he used his middle name extensively until 1980.

September 1977: Stevie leaves the Cobras and forms Triple Threat Revue with Lou Ann Barton (vocals), W.C. Clark (bass and vocals), Mike Kindred (keys), and Fredde Pharoah (drums).

Mid-May 1978: Johnny Reno (sax) and Jackie Newhouse (bass) join Stevie and Fredde to form Double Trouble, taking their name from an Otis Rush song.

September 1978: Chris Layton joins Double Trouble.

August 19, 1979: The band plays San Francisco Blues Festival, one of the first important out-of-state gigs.

April 1, 1980: The band records what will be released in 1992 as In The Beginning at Steamboat 1874, Austin.

January 2, 1981: Tommy Shannon replaces Jackie Newhouse on bass. Shannon had played rock music’s most famous concert, Woodstock, as a member of Johnny Winter’s band in 1969.

July 11, 1981: The band is filmed performing at a festival outside Austin.  The next year, Stevie’s manager gives a tape of the show to Mick Jagger, eventually leading to the band playing a private party for the Rolling Stones at New York’s Danceteria on April 22, 1982. A photo of Stevie and Jagger makes Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Random Notes” page on June 10, 1982.

July 17, 1982: Stevie and Double Trouble play probably the most significant gig of their careers. They are the first unsigned band to play the Montreux International Jazz Festival in Switzerland. A few in the crowd boo the loud band, but, ironically, the band wins a Grammy for their performance of “Texas Flood” at this festival. Stevie has fortuitous meetings with David Bowie and Jackson Browne at the festival.

November 11-12, 1982: The band accepts Jackson Browne’s offer of studio time, recording what will become Texas Flood.  About this time, Bowie asks Stevie to add guitar work to his Let’s Dance album and upcoming world tour. Let’s Dance sells over three times as many copies as Bowie’s previous best seller. Stevie quits the Bowie tour during rehearsals to focus on his own band.

Spring 1983: Renowned producer John Hammond hears a tape of the band’s 1982 Montreux performance, and is instrumental in getting the band a record deal with Epic Records. Hammond is credited with “discovering” Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

May 9, 1983: A New York Post review of the band’s gig at New York’s Bottom Line asserts that the stage had been “rendered to cinders by some of the most explosively original guitarmanship to grace the New York stage in quite some time.”

June 13, 1983: Stevie’s first album, Texas Flood, is released.

1983: Stevie voted Guitar Player Magazine’s Best New Talent, Best Electric Blues Guitar Player and Best Guitar Album (Texas Flood), joining Jeff Beck (1976) as the only triple-award guitarists.

May 15, 1984: Couldn’t Stand the Weather is released.

October 4, 1984: The day after Stevie’s 30th birthday, with guests Angela Strehli (vocal), Roomful of Blues horns, Dr. John (piano), George Rains (drums) and Stevie’s brother (guitar), the band performs at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Stevie remarks that it is his best birthday ever.

November 18, 1984: Stevie wins two W.C. Handy National Blues Awards: Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the Year. He is the first white person to win either.

September 30, 1985: Soul to Soul is released, featuring new band member Reese Wynans on keyboards.

July 1986: The band records shows in Austin and Dallas for the band’s fourth album, Live Alive.

September 28, 1986: SRV collapses in Ludwigshafen, Germany from years of substance abuse. Stevie struggles through two more concerts, but the last 13 dates on the tour are cancelled while Stevie gets treatment for substance abuse. Stevie stays clean and sober from October 13 until his untimely death in 1990.

November 15, 1986: Live Alive is released.

Spring 1987: MTV broadcasts the band’s show at Daytona Beach, Florida, as part of its Spring Break coverage. Stevie appears in the movie Back to the Beach, performing “Pipeline” with Dick Dale, and appears on B.B. King’s Cinemax TV special with Eric Clapton, Albert King, Phil Collins, Gladys Knight, Paul Butterfield, Chaka Khan and Billy Ocean.

January 23, 1989: The band performs at one of George Bush’s Presidential Inaugural parties, Washington D.C.

June 6, 1989: In Step is released.

1989-1990: Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Record: In Step. The band  does co-headlining tours with Jeff Beck and Joe Cocker.

January 30, 1990: Stevie performs “Pride and Joy,” “Testify” and “Rude Mood” on acoustic 12-string guitar for MTV Unplugged. A fourth song, “Life Without You” is aborted.

Spring 1990: Sessions for Family Style with Jimmie Vaughan at Ardent Studios, Memphis. The album is released September 25, 1990.

August 13, 1990: All five albums have been certified gold (500,000 sold) by this date.

August 26, 1990: Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, concert, sold out (30,000) features an encore jam with Stevie, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan and  Robert Cray.

August 27, 1990: Shortly before 1:00 a.m. the helicopter carrying Stevie back to Chicago crashes within seconds after takeoff. All five on board perish. An investigation later declares the primary cause to be pilot error.