Favorite Guitar Solos: Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Leave My Girl Alone," Austin City Limits, 1989
Stevie Ray Vaughan at Austin City Limits, 1989.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, the guitarist who has had the greatest influence on me as a player, died 23 years ago today on August 27, 1990.
Basically, everything changed for the very young version of me the first time I saw him play live. It was March 1984 at Kean College in Union, New Jersey. After that night, I tore up, stomped on and burned the book on what I thought being a blues guitarist was all about — and started all over again.
For me, that same excitement about Vaughan lasted until about six or seven years ago, when I decided I wasn't letting enough new influences into my playing, wasn't giving other — you know, living — guitarists a chance to wow me or have that same, life-changing effect on me. Plus I started to feel weird telling people that my favorite guitarist was a guy who'd been dead for 17 years.
But I've been feeling a little guilty about that decision lately, and I've been intentionally going back for my daily doses of SRV's music, discovering things I might've missed as a spindly kid. It's been a bit like getting reacquainted with an old friend.
But as I re-evaluate Vaughan's work with a new (or is it old?) eye, one thing hasn't changed: my favorite favorite SRV performance. It is, and always has been, his live rendition of Buddy Guy's "Leave My Girl Alone" as performed at Austin City Limits in 1989.
As I used to say 20 years ago, it's got everything that was awesome about SRV: the intensity, the passion, the timing, the speed (Did I mention the intensity? Check out how he literally growls his way into the ridiculously awesome solo at 2:06). Check it out below.
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World,.
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