Jeff Beck said Stevie Ray Vaughan “was the closest thing to Hendrix when it came to playing the blues”: watch the two guitar heroes duke it out on Goin' Down

Stevie Ray Vaughan (left) and Jeff Beck perform live onstage in 1989
(Image credit: Robert Knight Archive/Redferns)

Less than a year before his tragic death in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990, electric guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan embarked on a co-headlining tour for the ages with Jeff Beck.

By all accounts, Vaughan – who was fresh off the release of his well-received 1989 LP, In Step was in the midst of a period of incredible creativity, and you can really feel that energy in live videos from the 1989 Vaughan/Beck tour.

One of the best of these captures the two guitar heroes duking it out on Goin' Down, a Don Nix blues-rock standard that Beck made his own.

Luckily for us, the performance – which took place on October 28, 1989 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago – was filmed for posterity by MTV. You can check it out below.

In keeping with the shared-spotlight spirit of the tour, Beck kindly allows Vaughan to take the first solo, which the Texan does with aplomb. With dizzying speed, perfect phrasing and sheer, overwhelming power, Vaughan takes the vaunted tune into his own hands with authority. 

Not to be outdone, though, Beck puts in quite a turn of his own, matching Vaughan's ferocity punch for punch.

There's clearly a touch of Jimi Hendrix in Vaughan's outburst in particular – not just the obvious technical skill and similar blues influences, but in the solo's sense of adventure, and devil-may-care fearlessness.

“I loved Jimi a lot,“ Vaughan told Guitar World in a 1984 interview. “He was so much more than just a blues guitarist. He could do anything. I was about sixteen when he died. I could do some of his stuff by then, but actually I’ve been trying to find out what he was doing more so lately than I was then. Now I'm really learning how to do it and I'm trying to expand on it – not that I can expand on it a whole bunch. But I try.“

Speaking of Vaughan in a 2021 interview with Classic Rock, Beck said simply, “I think Stevie Ray was the closest thing to Hendrix when it came to playing the blues.“

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.