The 1996 concert video A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan gathers Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Art Neville, Dr. John, and brother Jimmie Vaughan to celebrate the talent and life of the modern electric blues guitar virtuoso. Double Trouble and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band support these stars as they interpret Vaughan's songbook in an 80-minute concert; brief interviews with the featured artists enrich the proceedings with even more respect and affection. Highlights of Vaughan's performance on the PBS series Austin City Limits hit home just how great a talent was lost when he was killed in 1990. Ultimately, though, A Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan focuses on the uplifting memory of his warmth and musical gifts, keeping them alive with the help of his very able friends.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble formed the most impressive blues act of the 1980s, which made Vaughan's death in a helicopter crash at the start of the '90s all the more tragic. He grew up in Dallas, the younger brother of Jimmie Vaughan (cofounder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds). Stevie began playing in clubs at 12, and by 17 had dropped out of high school and moved to Austin. There followed years of struggling until April 23, 1982, when Vaughan and his group, Double Trouble, played a private audition for the Rolling Stones in New York. The gig led to an invitation to appear at the Montreux Jazz Festival, at which Vaughan was seen by David Bowie, who hired him to play guitar on his Let's Dance album, and Jackson Browne, who offered the free use of his recording studio. Vaughan took up that offer after being signed by legendary talent scout John Hammond to Epic, recording his debut album, Texas Flood, in the fall of 1982…
With his astonishingly accomplished guitar playing, Stevie Ray Vaughan ignited the blues revival of the '80s. Vaughan drew equally from bluesmen like Albert King, Otis Rush, and Muddy Waters and rock & roll players like Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack, as well as the stray jazz guitarist like Kenny Burrell, developing a uniquely eclectic and fiery style that sounded like no other guitarist, regardless of genre.
While 2002's Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble is the place to go for the complete picture, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Stevie Ray Vaughan works well as a nice single-disc introduction to the work of the influential blues guitarist. Perhaps a few more hits could have been included to make this more attractive to the curious buyer, but with a previously unreleased live version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and a track listing that dodges much of the 1995 Greatest Hits collection, this does offer an alternative for longtime fans.
By 1988, Stevie Ray Vaughan, newly clean and sober, was playing with more conviction and clarity than ever before. This positive new direction resulted in 1989's In Step, his fourth and final Epic studio recording with Double Trouble. In Step reveals a newfound sense of depth in SRV's songwriting. And his trademark aggressive guitar playing is imbued with a cathartic intensity that kicks the band up to another level. In Step won Stevie Ray his second Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Recording and cemented his status as a guitar hero and an American music legend.