Stevie Ray Vaughan

Posted by Janet | March 9, 2008

October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990

Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the greatest guitarist of all time, died in a helicopter crash at age 35.

On August 25 and August 26, 1990, Vaughan and Double Trouble finished the summer portion of the In Step Tour with shows at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, just outside of East Troy, Wisconsin. The show also featured Robert Cray & His Memphis Horns, and Eric Clapton, who played the closing set. At the end of the show, as fog settled over the audience in the arena, Clapton introduced Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, and Jimmie Vaughan. The musicians chose the appropriately titled “Sweet Home Chicago”, a blues classic written by Robert Johnson. After the twenty-minute jam, the lights went up and the musicians went backstage to trade compliments. Clapton and Vaughan talked about future dates in London to pay a tribute to Jimi Hendrix.

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.

The search for the wreckage began at 5:00 a.m., and it had been found at 7:00 a.m. via the help of its locator beacon. The main cause of the crash was believed to be pilot error. Vaughan’s was the only body found outside of the wreckage, suggesting he may have survived the initial crash.

Chris Layton and Jimmie Vaughan did not find out about the crash until they returned to the motel in Chicago. The following morning Jimmie and Eric Clapton were called to identify the bodies. The coroner’s report stated that the cause of death was exsanguination caused by severing of the aorta. The severance is caused by high deceleration during crash impact.

The media initially stated that Vaughan and his band had been killed in the crash. Layton and Double Trouble’s bass player, Tommy Shannon, called their families to let them know they were all right.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is interred in the Laurel Land Memorial Park, Dallas, Texas. – adapted from Wikipedia

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