Mention Austin, Texas, and people think of live music. Mention Austin and live music, and people think of Stevie Ray Vaughan. They are inseparable, and always will be.
Born in Dallas in the fall of 1954, Vaughan took to music at a very early age, and by his late teens, he had already quit school and was playing in Austin’s lively music scene. Playing in many different bands over the years, Vaughan gained a reputation as a very good blues guitarist in the Austin area. In the early 1980’s, he played on David Bowie’s, Let’s Dance, album. From then on, he became very famous, very fast, along with his band, Double Trouble.
Along with the rise to stardom, however, came an addiction to alcohol. In the late 1980’s, he checked himself into a rehab, and came out sober. And while his musical talents on the guitar continued to bring him great success, it all came to an abrupt end in 1990. Following a concert in Wisconsin, he boarded a helicopter which crashed soon after it took off. Vaughan perished in the crash, at the young age of thirty-five.
Following his death, it was not lost on anyone in Austin that Stevie Ray Vaughan and the city were connected to such an extent, that they could never be separated. In 1994, the City of Austin erected a memorial statue, in his honor, near the site of many of his Austin concerts, on Auditorium Shores.
It’s been nearly twenty years since his death, but in Austin and around the world, he is still remembered as one of the great guitar players of all time. And, locals and visitors alike visit the statue in great numbers every year, and many, leave small tokens and offerings to his memory.
And like Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), two other Texas musicians who, similarly died in an aircraft crash shortly after takeoff over thirty years earlier, the music that Vaughan, Holly, and Richardson made did not die, but lives on, even though they’re long gone.