Watch Stevie Ray Vaughan Play Slide Guitar in 1986 Texas TV Ad

(Image credit: David Redfern/Getty Images)

The great state of Texas launched its now-iconic "Don’t Mess with Texas" ad campaign exactly 30 years ago.

The campaign, which evolved from an extensive public-education program conducted by the Texas Highway Commission, aims to keep Texas beautiful, often hosting massive clean-up events, partnering with litter-prevention programs and more.

One of the reasons "Don't Mess with Texas" continues to thrive is its always-imaginative TV commercials, which, from the very start, have featured appearances from well-known Texans. In fact, the campaign's very first commercial from 1986 featured Stevie Ray Vaughan.

In the clip, which you can check out below (top video), a decked-out Vaughan plays a quick slide-guitar version of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" on his Strat before admonishing viewers with a simple, "Don't mess with Texas." Vaughan rarely played slide in the first place, and it's particularly unusual to see him do it in a video, even one that's only 30 seconds long.

Other commercials over the years (all of which are available to view here) have featured Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey, Lyle Lovett, LeAnn Rimes, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kevin Fowler and Jack Ingram. In fact, SRV's big brother, Jimmie Vaughan, appeared in a 1986 commercial with his band at the time, the Fabulous Thunderbirds. In the clip, we see that the band has changed the lyrics to their biggest hit, "Tuff Enuff," to fit the theme of the campaign. You can watch it below (bottom video).

For more about "Don't Mess with Texas," visit

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.