Stevie Ray Vaughan Discusses Fame, Hendrix and His New Album, 'Soul To Soul,' in 1985 Guitar World Interview
Here's Guitar World's second interview with Stevie Ray Vaughan, from the November 1985 issue. The original story by Bruce Nixon started on page 28 and ran with the headline, "It's Star Time: Stevie's been in the spotlight so long now, he's just beginning to realize — with the help of Clapton, Townshend and Albert King — that everybody's eyes are on him."
Something was up. Stevie Ray Vaughan looked like the cat that swallowed the canary.
He had plenty of reason to be pleased, of course: A few weeks earlier, Vaughan and his band, Double Trouble, had received their first Grammy (in the ethnic music category, for some tunes on a Montreux Jazz Festival blues anthology), capping a year in which they'd won a number of other industry awards.
After seeing their first two albums climb into the upper reaches of the charts, they'd toured widely at home and abroad and were, at that moment, in the midst of finishing up work on their third record, Soul To Soul.
But something more than a year of new triumphs and successes was on Stevie Ray's mind, and he was being deliberately and playfully vague. Nothing arouses your curiosity faster than that. He positively seemed to glow.
Was he born again?
"Something like that." There was the faint wisp of a knowing smile under the broad-brimmed hat. It was a white hat, too-not the black Man With No Name hat that's become a trademark of sorts.
Quit drinking and smoking?
He held up his glass. "No."
Make up with his wife and family over something?
"That's part of it."
Vaughan grinned mischievously, and talk moved in other directions. He was sitting in the dim corner of a lounge in a pleasant North Dallas hotel, waiting to leave for the studio where Soul To Soul was coming down the home stretch. A little later, the rest of the band came down — drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, an alumnus of the old Johnny Winter band of the sixties — and they clearly possessed something of the same glow. Was this contagious?
"Yeah, some big changes have taken place. I haven't resolved all my problems," Vaughan finally explained, "but I'm working on it. I can see the problems, at least, and that takes a lot of the pressure off. I've been running from myself too long, and now I feel like I'm walking with myself."
During the course of a long conversation, there had been hints of friction in his organization, a sense of the many unpredictable pressures that had been placed on the band, but Vaughan was referring to something else entirely. There's sometimes been a feeling, yes, that Stevie Ray Vaughan was uncomfortable with his success, perhaps a bit bewildered by it — why should fate tap him, a humble blues guitarist? — or, at least, he was not totally prepared for its accompanying responsibilities. He was confused by the people who were drawn to him because of his success and not because of him or what is in his music.
Despite all that's happened to him during the past two years or so, Vaughan possesses not so much as the slightest aura of rock stardom. He seems very much the hard-working club player he used to be, friendly, modest, down-to- earth.
He chuckled at the memory of playing Austin clubs years ago, making a few dollars for the night and then borrowing money from the bartender to cover the bar tab — he laughed remembering it that $1.36 was the least he'd ever earned on a paying gig. But now, the success is there just the same, and at some point, he finally began to reach an understanding of it all. He's getting used to the attention, the star-gazers and the paparazzi.
Vaughan remained vague about some of the particulars — it was an element of privacy he seemed to be reserving for himself — although he was quite amiable, and talked at great length about his current album and about some of his plans for the immediate future. He was very excited about the new Lonnie Mack album just about to hit the streets at the time of the interview, an album he co-produced in Austin last year, and on which he played.
He'd picked up a few important life lessons from the veteran guitarist: Mack, of course, has seen it all and done it all in his long career, and lived with success and without it, and he still plays up a storm.
"He's getting younger all the time, too," Stevie Ray chuckled. "I swear he is.' Look at him reeeal close." He smiled: "I sat down and talked to the man, and he's one of the men who will sit down and talk to you, too. And thank God for that. He's a wonderful cat. He opened my eyes to a lot of things."
While Double Trouble was touring in Australia recently, the band crossed paths with Eric Clapton, another player whose work reflects very personal, quest-like grapplings with the accouterments of success.
"He didn't tell me what to do," Vaughan said. "He told me how it'd been for him." Afterwards, Clapton and Vaughan had holed up in a hotel room for a few hours, talking about success and its pit falls. Vaughan didn't want to elaborate on exactly what was said, but it was clear that Clapton's wisdom involved star qualities Stevie had to acknowledge in order to deal with them.