Stevie Ray Vaughan is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists that has ever graced the stage and his final ever performance on August 26th, 1990, just a day before his death, will give you goosebumps all over your body.
Vaughan then lost his life under tragic circumstances aged just 35 on August 27, a time when he and four others were killed in a helicopter crash in East Troy, Wisconsin, immediately after their show with Double Trouble at Alpine Valley Music Theatre.
The pilot, Jeff Brown, was allegedly unqualified at flying a helicopter and an investigation concluded that the cause was indeed his error. Vaughan’s family successfully filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Omniflight Helicopters who settled the claim outside of court.
Vaughan was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, along with Double Trouble bandmates Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, and Reese Wynans — with the blues icon finally getting the recognition he deserved, it’s just a crying shame that he wasn’t there to witness it.
The concert at Alpine Valley Music Theatre by all accounts caught Vaughan at the top of his game and the encore performance of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ is seen as being his most definitive performance, one which would sadly be the final time he ever got the chance to play. For the 17-minute rendition of the blues classic, Vaughan was joined on stage by none other than Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy — who delivered a masterclass.
“We played on the same bill on his last two gigs. On the first night, I watched his set for about half an hour and then I had to leave because I couldn’t handle it,” Clapton eulogised some years later. “I knew enough to know that his playing was just going to get better and better. His set had started, he was like two or three songs in, and I suddenly got this flash that I’d experienced before so many times whenever I’d seen him play, which was that he was like a channel,” he added.
“One of the purest channels I’ve ever seen, where everything he sang and played flowed straight down from heaven. Almost like one of those mystic Sufi guys with one finger pointing up and one finger down. That’s what it was like to listen to. And I had to leave just to preserve some kind of sanity or confidence in myself,” Clapton said about his former contemporary.
Praise doesn’t get much higher than words like that from Eric Clapton, who knows a thing or two about good guitar playing and although Stevie Ray Vaughan’s career was cut painfully short — his legacy will always live on.
Listen to his final ever performance, below.