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L E’s Stories – “Thursday Nights At Austin’s Rome Inn Meant The Vaughan Brothers Stevie + Jimmie

From 1976 to 1988, Bone Daddy’s sports bar, Madison Square Garden, The Sports Place at 302 E. 6th Street in downtown Austin, Texas was just a block away from the best blues club in the Southwest, Antoine’s Nightclub….which was the place that BD would escape The Garden….. which was open 7 days a week from 11am to 2am…..cuz Antoine’s had great live blues music and two of his favorite waitresses in all of Austin….for the truth be known….this is where he would always escape to when he could get a break….especially to go see Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble….along with Stevie Ray’s brother,  Jimmie Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds…..on any night that they would play Antoine’s.  Also, during the early 1970’s….BD would go to Rome Inn to see Stevie Ray and his band play every Thursday night.  So, this story is dedicated to an Austin “homeboy musician”…. who just happened to be one of the greatest blues guitar virtuoso to ever live….and had he not died at age 36….he probably would have solidified that moniker.                                                                                                                                                       

Music – 1978 – Special – Jimmie & Stevie Ray Vaughan Performing “Pipeline” On One Guitar

Stevie Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer….who was best known as the guitarist and frontman of the blues rock band Double Trouble. Although his mainstream career only spanned seven years, he is considered to be one of the most iconic and influential musicians in the history of blues music….as well as being one of the greatest guitarists of all time.                                                                                                                                                         

Music – 1988 – Santana With Stevie Ray Vaughan Live In Concert – Playing “Coal Train”

 

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Vaughan began playing guitar at age seven, initially inspired by his elder brother Jimmie Vaughan. In 1972…. as he dropped out of high school and moved to Austin…..where he began to gain a following after playing gigs on the local club circuit….. which included Thursday nights at The Rome Inn.  Vaughan formed the band Double Trouble in 1978 and established it as part of the Austin music scene….which soon became one of the most popular acts in Texas. He performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982….  where David Bowie saw him play….and contacted him for a studio gig which resulted in Stevie playing his blues guitar on the album Let’s Dance in 1983….and just before being discovered by John Hammond, who got the major label Epic Records to sign Stevie Ray and his band  to a record deal.  Within months, Vaughan achieved mainstream success with Double Trouble for the critically acclaimed debut album Texas Flood.  With a series of successful network television appearances and extensive concert tours….that’s when Stevie Ray  became the leading figure in the blues revival of the 1980’s…..when while playing his guitar behind his back or plucking the strings with his teeth like Jimi Hendrix did, he earned unprecendented stardom in Europe….which later resulted in breakthroughs for guitar players like Robert Cray, Jeff Healey, Robben Ford and Walter Trout among others.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Music – 1990 – Eric Clapton + Stevie Ray Vaughan + Buddy Guy + Jimmie Vaughan + Robert Cray – “Sweet Home Chicago”

 

During the majority of his life, Vaughan struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. He also struggled with the personal and professional pressures of fame….along with his marriage to Lenny Bailey. He successfully completed rehabilitation and began touring again with Double Trouble in November 1986. His fourth and final studio album In Step reached # 33 in the United States in 1989; it was one of Vaughan’s most critically and commercially successful releases and included his only # 1 hit “Crossfire”. He became one of the world’s most highly-demanded blues performers, and he headlined Madison Square Garden (New York) in 1989 and the Beale Street Music Festival in 1990.                                                        

Music – 1989 – Live At Madison Square Garden – Stevie Ray Vaughan + Jeff Beck – Performing “I’m Going Down”

 

On August 27, 1990, Vaughan and four others were killed in a helicopter crash in East Troy, Wisconsin, after performing with Double Trouble at Alpine Valley Music Theatre. The pilot, Jeff Brown, was unqualified at the time of the crash, and an investigation concluded that the cause was pilot error. Vaughan’s family later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Omniflight Helicopters, which was settled out of court. Vaughan’s music continued to achieve commercial success with several posthumous releases….and by 2020 has sold over 18 million albums in the United States alone. In 2003, David Fricke of Rolling Stone ranked him the 7th greatest guitarist of all time. Vaughan was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015….along with Double Trouble bandmates Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, and Reese Wynans.                                                                                                             

Music – 1985 – Special Sound Check Session – Stevie Ray Vaughan Is Just Waking Up

 

In 1975, Vaughan joined a six-piece band called Paul Ray and the Cobras which included guitarist Val Swierczewski and saxophonist Joe Sublett.  For the next two-and-a-half years, he earned a living performing weekly at a popular venue in town, the Soap Creek Saloon, and ultimately the newly opened Antone’s, widely known as Austin’s “home of the blues” In late 1976, Vaughan recorded a single with them, “Other Days” as the A-side and “Texas Clover” as the B-side. Playing guitar on both tracks, the single was released on February 7, 1977….then in March, readers of the Austin Sun voted them as Band of the Year.  In addition to playing with the Cobras, Vaughan jammed with many of his influences at Antone’s, including Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Albert King.  Vaughan toured with the Cobras during much of 1977…. but near the end of September, after they decided to strive for a mainstream musical direction, he left the band and formed Triple Threat Revue…. which included singer Lou Ann Barton, bassist W. C. Clark, and drummer Freddie Pharaoh.  In January 1978, they recorded four songs in Austin, including Vaughan’s composition “I’m Cryin'”. The thirty-minute audio recording marks the only known studio recording of the band.

 

Music – 1975 – Paul Ray & The Cobras – Featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Texas Clover”                                           

In mid-May 1978, Clark left to form his own group and Vaughan renamed the band Double Trouble….which was taken from the title of an Otis Rush song…..then following the recruitment of bassist Jackie Newhouse….that is when Pharaoh quit in July…..and was briefly replaced by Jack Moore….who had moved to Texas from Boston….as he performed with the band for about two months.  Vaughan then began looking for a drummer….and soon after, he met Chris Layton through Sublett…..who was his roommate. Layton, who had recently parted ways with Greezy Wheels, was taught by Vaughan to play a shuffle rhythm….so, when Vaughan offered Layton the position, he agreed.  In early July, Vaughan befriended Lenora Bailey, known as “Lenny”, who became his girlfriend….and ultimately his wife….in a marriage that would last for six and a half years.                                                                                                     

Music – 1979 – Stevie Ray Vaughan Live In Austin – “I’m Crying”

 

In early October 1978, Vaughan and Double Trouble earned a frequent residency performing at one of Austin’s most popular nightspots, the Rome Inn on Thursday nights.  During a performance, Edi Johnson, an accountant at Manor Downs, noticed Vaughan.  She remembered: “I’m not an authority on music—it’s whatever turned me on—but this did.”….so, she recommended him to Manor Downs owner Frances Carr and general manager Chesley Millikin…..who was interested in managing artists….and saw Vaughan’s musical potential…..therefore, after LuAnn Barton quit Double Trouble in mid-November 1979 ….that is when Millikin signed Vaughan to a management contract…..as Vaughan also hired Robert “Cutter” Brandenburg as road manager….whom he had met in 1969…..who always addressed him as “Stevie Ray”…..for it was Brandenburg who convinced Vaughan to use his middle name on stage.                           

Music – 1987 – Volunteer Jam XIII At Starwood Amphitheater, Nashville, TN – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble Live In Concert

In October 1980, bassist Tommy Shannon attended a Double Trouble performance at Rockefeller’s in Houston. Shannon….who was playing with Alan Haynes at the time….when he participated in a jam session with Vaughan and Layton halfway through their set…..as Shannon later commented….“I went down there that night, and I’ll never forget this: it was like, when I walked in the door and I heard them playing, it was like a revelation. ‘That’s where I want to be; that’s where I belong, right there.’ During the break, I went up to Stevie and told him that. I didn’t try to sneak around and hide it from the bass player [Jackie Newhouse]—I didn’t know if he was listening or not. I just really wanted to be in that band. I sat in that night and it sounded great.”….and three months later, Vaughan offered Shannon the position….which he readily accepted.                                                                                                                                                       

Music – 1987 – Live At The Riverboat President – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – “I’m Leaving You (Commit A Crime)”

 

Although popular in Texas at the time, Double Trouble failed to gain national attention. The group’s luck progressed when record producer Jerry Wexler recommended them to Claude Nobs, organizer of the Montreux Jazz Festival. He insisted the festival’s blues night would be great with Vaughan, whom he called “a jewel, one of those rarities who comes along once in a lifetime”, and Nobs agreed to book Double Trouble on July 17.                                                                                                                                             

Music – 1986 – Live In Session – Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Don’t You Lie To Me”

 

Vaughan opened the Montreux Jazz Festival with a medley arrangement of Freddie King’s song “Hide Away” and his own fast instrumental composition, “Rude Mood”. Double Trouble went on to perform renditions of Larry Davis’ “Texas Flood”, Hound Dog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig”, and Albert Collins’ “Collins Shuffle”, as well as three original compositions: “Pride and Joy”, “Love Struck Baby” and “Dirty Pool”.  The set ended with boos from the audience. People‘s James McBride wrote….He seemed to come out of nowhere, a Zorro-type figure in a riverboat gambler’s hat, roaring into the ’82 Montreux festival with a ’59 Stratocaster at his hip and two flame-throwing sidekicks he called Double Trouble. He had no album, no record contract, no name, but he reduced the stage to a pile of smoking cinders and, afterward, everyone wanted to know who he was.”                                                                                                                        

Music – 1985 – Live At The Capitol Theatre In Passaic, NJ – Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Love Struck Baby + Pride and Joy + Testify”

 

According to road manager Don Opperman: “the way I remember it, the ‘ooos’ and the ‘boos’ were mixed together, but Stevie was pretty disappointed. Stevie [had] just handed me his guitar and walked off stage, and I’m like, ‘are you coming back?’ There was a doorway back there; the audience couldn’t see the guys, but I could. He went back to the dressing room with his head in his hands. I went back there finally, and that was the end of the show.”  According to Vaughan…. “it wasn’t the whole crowd [that booed]. It was just a few people sitting right up front. The room there was built for acoustic jazz. When five or six people boo, wow, it sounds like the whole world hates you. They thought we were too loud, but shoot, I had four army blankets folded over my amp, and the volume level was on 2. I’m used to playin’ on 10!”   The performance was filmed and later released on DVD in September 2004.                                                               

Music – 1982 – Montreaux Jazz Festival – Featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Hideaway” + “Rude Mood”

 

On the following night, Double Trouble was booked in the lounge of the Montreux Casino, with Jackson Browne in attendance. Browne jammed with Double Trouble until the early morning hours and offered them free use of his personal recording studio in downtown Los Angeles. In late November the band accepted his offer and recorded ten songs in two days.  While they were in the studio, Vaughan received a telephone call from David Bowie, who met him after the Montreux performance, and he invited him to participate in a recording session for his next studio album, Let’s Dance.   In January 1983, Vaughan recorded guitar on six of the album’s eight songs, including the title track and “China Girl”. The album was released on April 14, 1983 and sold over three times as many copies as Bowie’s previous album.                 

Music – 1991 – Stevie Ray Vaughan Live At El Mocambo – “Mary Had A Little Lamb”

 

In mid-March 1983, Gregg Geller, vice president of A&R at Epic Records, signed Double Trouble to the label at the recommendation of record producer John Hammond…..and soon afterward, Epic financed a music video for “Love Struck Baby”…..which was filmed at the Cherry Tavern in New York City….as SRV recalled….“we changed the name of the place in the video. Four years ago I got married in a club where we used to play all the time called the Rome Inn. When they closed it down, the owner gave me the sign, so in the video we put that up behind me on the stage.”                                                                                       

Music – 1984 – Live At “Rockpalast” Lorelei Pop Festival – Stevie Ray Vaughan Live In Concert

 

With the success of Let’s Dance, Bowie requested Vaughan as the featured instrumentalist for the upcoming Serious Moonlight Tour, realizing that he was an essential aspect of the album’s groundbreaking success.  In late April, Vaughan began rehearsals for the tour in Las Colinas, Texas. When contract re-negotiations for his performance fee failed, Vaughan abandoned the tour days before its opening date…..and he was replaced by Earl Slick. Vaughan commented….“I couldn’t gear everything on something I didn’t really care a whole lot about. It was kind of risky, but I really didn’t need all the headaches.”   Although contributing factors were widely disputed, Vaughan soon gained major publicity for quitting the tour.                                                                                                                                      

Music – 1988 – Rare Footage Special – Stevie Ray Vaughan Playing The Acoustical Guitar

 

On May 9, the band performed at The Bottom Line in New York City, where they opened for Bryan Adams, with Hammond, Mick Jagger, John McEnroe, Rick Nielsen, Billy Gibbons, and Johnny Winter in attendance.  Brandenburg described the performance as “ungodly”: “I think Stevie played every lick as loud and as hard and with as much intensity as I’ve ever heard him.”  The performance earned Vaughan a positive review published in the New York Post, asserting that Double Trouble outperformed Adams.  “Fortunately, Bryan Adams, the Canadian rocker who is opening arena dates for Journey, doesn’t headline too often”, wrote Martin Porter, who claimed that after the band’s performance, the stage had been “rendered to cinders by the most explosively original showmanship to grace the New York stage in some time.”                                                                                                                                                                    

Music – 1988 – Rare Footage Interview With Stevie Ray Vaughan On His Career

 

On October 4, 1984, Vaughan headlined a performance at Carnegie Hall that included many guest musicians…..when for the 2nd half of the concert, he added his brother, Jimmie, as rhythm guitarist….as well as drummer George Rains…..keyboardist Dr. John….Roomful of Blues horn section….and featured vocalist Angela Strehli.  The ensemble rehearsed for less than two weeks before the performance….and despite the solid dynamics of Double Trouble for the first half of the performance….while according to Patoski and Crawford…..the big band concept never entirely took form.  Before arriving at the sold out venue…..which made Vaughan extremely excited and nervous…..as he didn’t calm down until halfway through the 3rd song.  A benefit for the T.J. Martell Foundation’s work in leukemia and cancer research, he was an important draw for the event.  As his scheduled time slot drew closer, he indicated that he preferred traveling to the venue by limousine to avoid being swarmed by fans on the street….as the band took the stage around 8:00 p.m…..when the audience of 2,200 people…..which included Vaughan’s wife, family and friends….as they transformed the venue into what Stephen Holden of The New York Times  described as “a whistling, stomping roadhouse”.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Music – 1979 – Live At Volunteer Jam In Nashville – Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Voodoo Child”

 

Introduced by Hammond as “one of the greatest guitar players of all time”, Vaughan opened with “Scuttle Buttin'”….while wearing a custom-made mariachi suit he described as a “Mexican tuxedo”…..as Double Trouble went on to perform renditions of the Isley Brothers’ Testify….The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Tin Pan Alley”….Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying”….and W. C. Clark’s “Cold Shot”….along with four original compositions including “Love Struck Baby”, “Honey Bee”, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” and “Rude Mood”.  During the second half of the performance, Vaughan performed covers by Larry Davis, Buddy Guy, Guitar Slim, Albert King, Jackie Wilson, and Albert Collins. The set ended with Vaughan performing solo renditions of “Lenny” and “Rude Mood”.                                            

Music – 1985 – Live at Shiba Yubinchukin Stadium In Tokyo, Japan – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – “Scuttle Buttin'”

 

The Dallas Times-Herald wrote of the performance at Carnegie Hall as….“It was full of stomping feet and swaying bodies, kids in blue jeans hanging off the balconies, dancing bodies that clogged the aisles.”  The New York Times asserted that, despite the venue’s “muddy” acoustics, their performance was “filled with verve”….and Vaughan’s playing was “handsomely displayed” Jimmie Vaughan later commented….“I was worried the crowd might be a little stiff. Turned out they’re just like any other beer joint.”….and SRV commented…..“We won’t be limited to just the trio, although that doesn’t mean we’ll stop doing the trio. I’m planning on doing that too. I ain’t gonna stay in one place. If I do, I’m stupid.”….and the performance was recorded….but wasn’t released until July 1997 by Epic Records….which ultimately certified gold.                                                                                                                     

Music – 1988 – Austin City Limits – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – “Crossfire”

 

Immediately after the concert, Vaughan attended a private party at a downtown club in New York, which was sponsored by MTV….where he was greeted by an hour’s worth of supporters. On the following day, Double Trouble made an appearance at a record store in Greenwich Village….where they signed autographs for fans.  In late October 1984, the band toured Australia and New Zealand….which included one of their first appearances on Australian television on Hey Hey It’s Saturday…..where they performed “Texas Flood”….plus, had an interview on Sounds…..then on November 5th and 9th, they played sold-out concerts at the Sydney Opera House.  Upon returning to the U.S., Double Trouble went on a brief tour in California. Soon afterward, Vaughan and Lenny went to the island of Saint Croix, on the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea, where they had spent some time vacationing in December. The next month, Double Trouble flew to Japan….where they appeared for five performances, including at Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan in Osaka.                                                                                                                                                            

Music – 1989 – Live At El Mocambo – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – “Texas Flood”

 

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music was rooted in blues, rock and jazz…..as he was influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Lonnie Mack, B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush, Guitar Slim, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters. According to nightclub owner Clifford Antone, who opened Antone’s in 1975, Vaughan jammed with Albert King at Antone’s in July 1977 and almost “scared him to death”, saying that “it was the best I’ve ever saw Albert or the best I ever saw Stevie” While Albert King had a substantial influence on Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix was Vaughan’s greatest inspiration. Vaughan declared: “I love Hendrix for so many reasons. He was so much more than just a blues guitarist—he played damn well any kind of guitar he wanted. In fact I’m not sure if he even played the guitar—he played music.”  He was also influenced by such jazz guitarists as Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, and George Benson.  In 1987, Vaughan listed Lonnie Mack first among the guitarists he had listened to, both as a youngster and as an adult.  Vaughan observed that Mack was “ahead of his time” and said, “I got a lot of my fast stuff from Lonnie” On another occasion, Vaughan said that he had learned tremolo picking and vibrato from Mack….and that Mack had taught him to “play guitar from the heart.”  Mack recalled his first meeting with Vaughan in 1978…..saying “We was in Texas looking for pickers, and we went out to see The Thunderbirds…..when Jimmie Vaughan was saying, ‘Man, you gotta hear my little brother. He plays all your [songs].’ He was playing a little place called the Rome Inn, and we went over there and checked him out. As it would be, when I walked in the door, he was playing ‘Wham!’ And I said, ‘Dadgum.’ He was playing it right. I’d been playing it wrong for a long time and needed to go back and listen to my original record. That was in ’78, I believe.”                                                                                                                                                                               

Music – 1986 – Austin City Limits – With Stevie Ray Vaughan + Double Trouble – “Cold Shot”

 

Vaughan’s relationship with another Texas blues legend, Johnny Winter, was a little more complex…..and although they met several times….while often playing sessions with the same musicians…..or even performed the same material….as in the case of Boot Hill, Vaughan always refrained from acknowledging Winter in any form. In his biography, “Raisin’ Cain”, Winter says that he was unnerved after reading Vaughan stating in an interview that he never met or knew Johnny Winter. “We even played together over at Tommy Shannon’s house one time.” Vaughan settled the issue in 1988 on the occasion of a blues festival in Europe where both he and Winter were on the bill, explaining that he has been misquoted and that “Every musician in Texas knows Johnny and has learned something from him”.  Asked to compare their playing styles in an interview in 2010, Winter admitted that “mine’s a little bit rawer, I think.”                            

Music – 1990 – Special – The Helicopter Crash Of Stevie Ray Vaughan

 

Stevie Ray Vaughan throughout his career revived blues rock and paved the way for many other artists…..as his work continues to influence nu numerous blues, rock and alternative artists, including John Mayer, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mike McCready, Albert Cummings, Los Lonely Boys and Chris Duarte, among others.   AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine described Vaughan as “the leading light in American blues” and developed “a uniquely eclectic and fiery style that sounded like no other guitarist, regardless of genre”.  In 1983, Variety magazine called Vaughan the “guitar hero of the present era”.                                                                                                                                                                       

Music – 1985 – Live At The Capitol Theater In Passiac, NJ – Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Tin Pan Alley”

In the months that followed his death, Vaughan sold over 5.5 million albums in the United States.  On September 25, 1990, Epic released Family Style, an LP the Vaughan brothers cut at Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The label released several promotional singles and videos for the collaborative effort.  In November 1990, CMV Enterprises released Pride and Joy, a collection of eight Double Trouble music videos….the Sony signed a deal with the Vaughan estate to obtain control of his back catalog….as well as permission to release albums with previously unreleased material and new collections of released work.  On October 29, 1991, The Sky Is Crying was released as Vaughan’s first posthumous album with Double Trouble, and featured studio recordings from 1984 to 1985.  Other compilations, live albums, and films have also been released since his death.                                                                       

Music – 1987 – Live In Iowa – Stevie Ray Vaughan + Double Trouble – “The Sky Is Crying”

 

On October 3, 1991, Texas governor Ann Richards proclaimed “Stevie Ray Vaughan Commemoration Day”, during which a memorial concert was held at the Texas Theater.  In 1993, a memorial statue of Vaughan was unveiled on Auditorium Shores of Town Lake….and is the first public monument of a musician in Austin.  In September 1994, a Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Run for Recovery was held in Dallas….as the event was a benefit for the Ethel Daniels Foundation, established to help those in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction who cannot afford treatment.                                                                                 

Music – 1984 – Rockpalast Music Festival – Featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan + Double Trouble – “Little Wing”

In 1999, the Musicians’ Assistance Program (later renamed MusiCares MAP Fund) created the “Stevie Ray Vaughan Award” to honor the memory of Vaughan and to recognize musicians for their devotion to helping other addicts struggling with the recovery process….with recipients that include Eric Clapton, David Crosby, Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Pete Townshend, Chris Cornell, Jerry Cantrell, Mike McCready, among others.                                                                                                                       

Music – 1989 – Special – Stevie Ray Vaughan Music Lesson

While talking with Bone Daddy as I was putting this story together to be posted….he related some of the stories about nights “butt rockin at the Rome Inn” with Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan….and any way you cut the pie….the stories were just as exciting as the nights at Rome Inn must have been….cuz BD says the Vaughan Boys could sure draw the ladies…..while Stevie and Jimmie’s guitars would literally “blow the panties off” all the girls that came to hear….and with that thought….we’ll end our salute to the “homeboy from Austin”….who sure could play that guitar….as the videos herewith prove out….so, don’t be sad it’s over…..rather, be grateful it happened…..and thank God  for bringing Stevie into this world…..as he rocked hard and overcame his demons before returning to the source…..as he lives on through us as we listen to him so keep honoring him…cuz it is our opinion that the Devil challenged God to a guitar battle….when God said He wasbringing Stevie….and the Devil said he was just kidding.                       

Music – 1983 – Hail To The Blues Jam & Suck My Guitar! In Blues Jam Session – With Albert King + Stevie Ray Vaughan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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