On December 6, 1983, blues legend Albert King met with then-rising star Stevie Ray Vaughan to film an episode of In Session for Canadian television. It was the first of two collaborations between the influential guitarists. Meant to be one in a series of live artist performances for the CHCH television station in Hamilton, Ontario, the set was recorded and released by Stax Records nearly 16 years later.
In Session features King’s concert repertoire prominently, but also includes Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy,” as well as friendly banter between the two musicians. Vaughan was a dedicated disciple of King, borrowing many of the elder bluesman’s trademark phrases and the famous “Albert King bend” (Vaughan’s solo on “Criminal World” from David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album is an example of King’s influence). Likewise, King, uncharacteristically, was in high praise of the younger guitarist’s talent. King reportedly was not interested in filming the broadcast at first, unaware that Stevie Ray Vaughan was “little Stevie,” whom King had let stand in with him during his shows in Vaughan’s native Texas. When King learned Stevie Ray Vaughan and “little Stevie” were the same person he agreed to the collaboration.
Vaughan and King would perform together again in 1987. B.B. King and Friends – A Night of Red Hot Blues features a duet of “The Sky is Crying” between Vaughan and Albert King. In Session, however, remains the pair’s most lauded collaboration, noted for both musicians’ departure from their typically ostentatious styles in favor of a more restrained dynamic.
Vaughan died in a helicopter crash outside East Troy, Wisconsin in 1990. King passed away from a heart attack two years later at his home in Memphis, Tennessee.
The film footage from In Session was released on DVD on September 28, 2010.