Stevie Ray Vaughan’s spirit lives on through the power of his music, and even outside of the blues genre, it doesn’t require much effort to find musicians who will name-check SRV as a primary influence.
If you’ve ever listened to any recordings by John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Josh Smith, Dan Patlansky or Philip Sayce, you will have definitely heard a line or two, or perhaps even 100, copped straight out of the SRV lick book. It’s something any of those players would happily admit to and have done time and time again.
But if there’s one musician who seems to capture the great man’s essence and courageous flair for gutsy improvisation, as well as continually delivering the kind of impeccable tones that leave other players red-faced in envy, it’s Magneto Guitars and DV Mark endorsee Eric Gales.
As it turns out, Eric had crossed paths with SRV early on in his career while working on demos for his debut album with The Eric Gales Band, having just inked a deal with Warner subsidiary Elektra Records after being touted as the next big thing in blues…
“I was lucky enough to meet Stevie back when I was recording demos for my first record,” Eric tells Total Guitar.
“I remember he was clean at the time. I told him my name was Eric Gales and he said, ‘I’m very aware of who you are because the industry has been buzzing about you!’ So we sat down and jammed, and he said to me, ‘Dude, you are an awesome guitar player!’ I was only 15 years old at the time. It was really intense, man! There were two acoustic guitars and we just had fun playing Riviera Paradise together.”
It was a life-changing moment for Eric, but as he remembers it, he never asked Stevie for any advice in terms of technique or theory. Even as a teenager, Eric had already done his homework and become a force to be reckoned with in his own right…
“Honestly, I had been studying the dude note-for-note way before that meeting,” he explains. “So it all came full-circle that day. It wasn’t about asking a whole lot of questions. I was just in awe of one of my heroes as we played together and he was nice enough to say ‘Man, you got it!’ when we finished.”
Back in the days before camera phones, when young musicians met their heroes it would be only natural for them to ask for an autograph to commemorate the experience. What Eric wasn’t expecting, however, was for SRV to ask for one in return…
As Eric now recalls with a smile and an expression of disbelief: “Right at the end I asked him to sign an autograph for me and he said, ‘Only if you sign one for me first!’ Through the years, I lost it. And though I don’t know where that piece of paper is, I will never ever forget it. That was such an intense meeting.
“I’ve always counted him, Robin Trower and Eric Johnson as my biggest influences. So whenever I’ve run across these people, it’s always blown my mind. And I have to say, all three of those players are known for their killer tones, but Stevie’s could be the greatest of all time. I will never forget that day we met!”
- Crown is out now via Provogue.