Rave On
August 27, 2010 3:48 PM   Subscribe

As which of us did not??!!
posted by IndigoJones at 4:11 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

SRV played better with one hand than I will ever play with two.
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:16 PM on August 27, 2010

posted by cmoj at 4:17 PM on August 27, 2010

posted by HeroZero at 4:26 PM on August 27, 2010

Little Wing shows the whole range of emotion SRV could coax from his ax; I don't think he generally covered the bases like that (Lenny might be close). Excellent, excellent work.

Speaking of one-handed work: I was at a show once where Stevie and his brother Jimmie took turns on one guitar - Jimmie picking and Stevie doing the fretwork and vice versa. Incredible. (Jimmie's no slouch on the guitar, either.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:36 PM on August 27, 2010

I'd like to think he and Jimi are jamming somewhere.
posted by lobstah at 4:41 PM on August 27, 2010

this was a staple of the Austin Music Network about 15 years ago, i always liked the video.
posted by djduckie at 4:56 PM on August 27, 2010

Sigh. It was on the front page of the Statesmen when I got home from work. Twenty. Years.

Not only was he an absolutely gifted talent, he was a fine, humble human being -- seriously one of the friendliest, kindest people I've ever met. I had the singular honor of working at the rehearsal hall where they worked up Couldn't Stand the Weather, and talked to him quite a bit. The day they broadcast his first ACL show, he carried a little portable TV into his rehearsal room, and before the show came on, he ran around the building and got EVERYBODY, even the no name kids playing bad covers of ZZ Top in the small room, and got us all sat down in his room to watch the show together. I ended up on the floor next to him, as I was the last person he grabbed, and several times during the broadcast, he'd elbow me and lean over, give me this gleeful look of disbelief and point at the TV and say "Look! We're on TV!" He was like a little kid.

I've got more stories, but I'm about to go to Birthday Night up at the A and A's. Thanks, Stevie for sobering up ahead of me and showing the way. Shit. I'm trying not to cry, here. I miss him a whole bunch.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:04 PM on August 27, 2010 [34 favorites]

Played them thick fucking strings.
posted by bardic at 5:26 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by weezy at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2010

This video is not available where I am located. Please tell me what it is so I can add it to the hundreds of other SRV clips I have been watching today.
posted by chillmost at 5:48 PM on August 27, 2010

I attended his memorial service in Dallas in 1990. Here's a picture I took. And another. This guy was crying.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:00 PM on August 27, 2010

He is my favorite favorite, the first musician who made me understand what people mean when they say someone makes an instrument talk. I really understand his music, like it goes straight into my brain, bypassing my ears, it really speaks to me. The first time I heard him was in a car on my way home late one night, and I remember clearly that it just didn't sound like anything I'd ever heard before, I sat there and listened in the dark until it was over. Went out the next day to buy Texas Flood, and that was it. I was wrecked when he died, but it didn't damage his music for me, I still listen to him regularly, I know most of his music inside out, and I still not only enjoy listening to it, I hear something new nearly every time. There are some who come close, but there'll never be another Stevie.

Please tell more stories when you can, Devils Rancher.

And .
posted by biscotti at 6:29 PM on August 27, 2010

For me, first hero, first concert, and first lost idol. He's why I started playing.
posted by swift at 6:40 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was fortunate to see him play 3 different times. Just amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

I am thankful for that.
posted by Vaike at 7:10 PM on August 27, 2010

posted by jquinby at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2010

I saw Stevie Ray in Austin a year (or so?) before his death and it was a sweaty, amazing show. Agreed, biscotti, there will never be another Stevie.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2010

Devil's Rancher, indulge all you want, when you get back. Drunk, even. Love to hear 'em.
posted by notsnot at 7:36 PM on August 27, 2010

Also, several of the famous guitars that he played were not actually Fenders, but were high-quality reproductions.

The same was true of Slash's "Les Paul" on Appetite for Destruction (and accompanying videos)—which is a bit funnier, because Slash probably sold more Les Pauls for Gibson in that era than Stevie Ray sold Strats for Fender. And Gibson was supposed to have been stricter about enforcing its IP.
posted by cribcage at 7:43 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's why I started playing

You know, I owe him a lot, too. I got Texas Flood when it came out, when I was in high school, and I wore out the LP. I also don't think I'd have wandered into older blues without him - he pointed the way to Lightnin' Hopkins, who pointed the way to everybody else.
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on August 27, 2010

posted by phogirl at 8:06 PM on August 27, 2010

SRV's Fender Stratocasters
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:08 PM on August 27, 2010

I'm pretty sure this isn't a Fender promotional video like the description says on the YouTube page, it's just the music video for "Little Wing." (Why would Fender make a promotional video that features so damn many non-Fender guitars?) I remember seeing this on TV multiple times back when the Sky is Crying album came out.
posted by cropshy at 8:23 PM on August 27, 2010

Stevie Ray Vaughan is the best white blues guitarist of all time.
posted by WhitenoisE at 8:43 PM on August 27, 2010

Played them thick fucking strings.

He did. Ridiculous. I know his high E was at least a 13 and that his low E was a 50-something. I picked #1 up one time when I was cleaning up the room - I have no idea how he bent those things. I never saw him play anything other than #1 except for the night the guy that built his Hamiltone guitar brought it in. Stevie properly gushed over it, because it was beautiful, and he played it a bit, but as soon as Hamilton left (I think it was Hamilton, anyway -- I seem to recall that it was the guy who made the guitar that brought it to him that night), he took it off and said "eh" and picked #1 back up. The next time I saw that Hamiltone, it was getting drenched in this video.

God, but they were loud, even in the practice room. One night, he stuck his head out the door and said "We're having trouble hearing the vocals. Do you think you could try to adjust the PA while we play?" (my friend Fred who ran the rehearsal hall had some basic little 6-channel things he rented with the rooms) I tweaked the knobs a bit and tried to ring it a bit for feedback, but when they actually started up a song, it invoked the most visceral flight response -- it was so goddam loud in front of his amp my whole body just said "RUN!" I hurriedly twisted a couple knobs, he gave me a nod, and I got the fuck out of there. Jesus Christ.

We used to stand around outside his door and listen, with all our collective jaws just on the fucking floor. When I heard them rehearsing Couldn't Stand the Weather, I knew immediately that song was it. I can still remember the first time I actually heard it on the radio after the album came out-- I was in Dales Automotive on S. Congress, buying shocks for my '63 Skylark. He told us one night that his manager had said with all the promo they had going for the new album, and with all the buzz, that it'd go gold for sure, and the first album would probably go gold right behind it. A week or so later, he came in, just jubilant, with the news that the first album had already gone gold.

I saw people try to goad him into saying negative things about Bowie and the Let's Dance thing, but he absolutely would not. He said it gave him a lot of perspective about "where to put the notes," to paraphrase. They basically had the songs done except for his leads, ran the tape for him a couple times, and said "are you ready?" and he cut those leads on Lets Dance on maybe the third or fourth listen, on each song, if I remember him telling it correctly. I know from other people that he wasn't happy about the white gloves on Bowie in the Lets Dance video, but he really never said a bad word about it around the hall.

I'd been making little halting stabs at trying to teach myself slap-and-pluck bass technique about that time, but just Was. Not. Getting. it. I was holding my hand all wrong. So I was sitting around in a vacant room, sort of tending the place (had the door open so I could hear the phone), and making these wretched *doink* *bleat* sounds on my bass. Stevie walked by the room, did a double-take, took a step back, and poked his head in, and watched me for a sec. I looked up and said "I am just not getting this." He walked around behind me, reached over my shoulder, grabbed my right hand and said "I've seen some cats do it like this," and turned my hand from the thumb-up position to more of a thumb-down thing, and BLAM. I was slapping. I'd been struggling with it for weeks, and he fixed it in 5 seconds. So if you ever hear me slap a bass, blame Stevie.

The thing that means the most though -- he sobered up at an AA club on Bouldin Ave. in South Austin, and though I never saw him after about 85, (other than sitting in at Antone's a couple times, and we didn't talk) when I reached the end of the line with my drinking and needed to quit but couldn't, I knew where that little white house was. I picked up my first chip there, and my first one-year chip there. I knew it had worked for him, and Goddam -- if he could get it, fucking anybody could. Even in the early 80's he could pack it down. I have no idea how bad it got for him in the end, but I've heard interviews, and apparently, I just saw him getting warmed up. He was a huge inspiration for me just to know he'd gone before, and there were still folks around that club who remembered him from those days. I haven't had a drink in almost 13 years, and his willingness to go public about his troubles and his success in AA were an inspiration to me and in some small way, even from beyond the grave, he helped save my life. I watched a buddy pick up a 20-year chip just a while ago -- this is kind of an emotional thing for me, right now. I hope I didn't dump too much, here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:20 PM on August 27, 2010 [41 favorites]

My most cherished guitar is my Fender SRV Signature Strat.
(the picture on Wikipedia is of my actual instrument)
posted by mrbill at 9:22 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I absolutely loved his first two albums and now I'm feeling guilty because I honestly haven't even thought about him in years. I'd totally forgotten how fantastic a guitar player he was. I need to turn back the clock. Damn, he was good.
posted by davebush at 9:31 PM on August 27, 2010

SRV interview where he demonstrates different approaches to the blues, including playing like Freddie King and Clapton

Watching him play Rude Mood in that clip just cements what I've always held to be the case -- true genius and virtuosity is in the right hand. New players seem to fixate on the left hand and I guess that's somewhat required at the beginning but man, all the alternate picking in that clip (and muting so that things don't all run together in a muddy mess) is just sick.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:04 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

devils rancher FTW. can not favorite that enough.

i was lucky enough to have seen him perform 5 times, and even shook his hand once (mammoth, vice-like grip, and the warmest smile imhave ever seen.) we were all of us blessed to get to breathe the same air as stevie for a little while.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:21 PM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Rhomboid, the people who really get Stevie's playing will all agree with you. His sense of rhythm and timing was extraordinary. I especially love the solo on Empty Arms because it's a really strong example of his unorthodox sense of where to put the stops between phrases.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:25 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Played them thick fucking strings.

I moved up to Ernie Ball Medium Gauge on my Strat because of SRV (13 - 56). I had to install two more springs for standard tuning and screw in the bracket some to get the bridge back down. I also had to learn to bend using two fingers and I got a pair of hand exercisers. The difference in tone on a Strat is amazing, very warm when picked near the neck pickup but still has the cluck when picking near the bridge. Also, the middle pickup alone gains a lot of character. The downside is heavy trem bar use can destabilize the entire setup and I usually have to retune 5 or 6 times over the next half hour of playing.

His sense of rhythm and timing was extraordinary.

His swing time rhythms were sick. Jumping from triplets to straight 16ths within a beat, and following that with swing 16ths. I am not a blues player, but SRV was a huge influence on how I approached playing guitar for the last 20 years.
posted by Ardiril at 11:25 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Texas Flood live at El Mocambo in 1983.

Testify, indeed.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:46 PM on August 27, 2010

He is my favorite favorite

The reason SRV is one of my favorite guitarists is because the dude worked at guitar. Worked nights on end, from an early age, late into the early morning. Played so hard the calluses on his fingers would eventually fall off, so he'd super glue them back on just to be able to play another couple of hours. There aren't too many things I've ever wanted that badly.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:01 AM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's nice and RIP and all that but... it's kinda like watching a robot turn a sock inside out...
posted by mhjb at 3:40 AM on August 28, 2010

I've only cried (heaving sobs) in the car twice after hearing news of someone's death on the radio. One was Stevie Ray Vaughan and the other was Mr. Rogers.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:37 AM on August 28, 2010

posted by Splunge at 5:30 AM on August 28, 2010

Played them thick fucking strings.

It's not about the gear, it's about the man. But thick strings do say something about the man. If someone like him, or Jeff Beck, uses those thick strings, it tells you he's had a guitar in his hands for the better part of a lifetime, and has developed freakish strength.

It also says a bit about a guitar, that it can hold those down. SRV's preferred gauges [.013, .015, .019, .028, .038, .058.] create a total of 147.3 Lbs of tension on the neck. The more typical gauges [.0095, .0115, .016, .024, .034, .044 ] create a total of 97.06 Lbs tension.

So SRV is putting an extra 50.26 Lbs of tension on the neck, the tremello bar, and all the other mechanisms. He was an athlete as well as an artist.

posted by StickyCarpet at 10:38 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

He used thicker strings but he also downtuned 'em, so the tension isn't as high as if he tuned normally. Still, the man's skill was amazing.
posted by Tacodog at 10:55 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

he also downtuned 'em

Ah, you are correct, down one half step. So he's a lucid transposer. Recalculating with that in mind, he's still got 107.5 Lbs of tension, 15 more than normal, and they also require more force to depress and manipulate.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:13 AM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

he also downtuned 'em

I wonder how much playing he did with any Baritone Saxes, or other Eb woodwinds.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:17 AM on August 28, 2010

I started playing guitar about 15 years ago, and when I first heard Little Wing a few months into playing, I was hooked. I went out and bought the tab book and spent hours and hours going over that track. It is still one of my favorite songs.

I even played with 13's for a while, but it just got too much for me and I've gone down to 10s. Bending the g string a up to a b was just too hard as I usually played in standard.

And just last year I finally got my Strat, which I've been wanting for the past 10 years. Although I don't play the blues, Stevie had a big influence on my playing. The man was a god.
posted by daHIFI at 5:43 PM on August 28, 2010

The morning after he died I played all the CDs I had at work for like five days. Drove my crew crazy till they hide them.....RIP SRV
posted by bjgeiger at 6:26 PM on August 28, 2010

Bending the g string a up to a b was just too hard

That's the trade-off for most players—whether you prefer the sound and feel of heavier strings, or whether it's more important to your playing to be able to bend two-steps-plus. There's no right answer, but it does depend somewhat on what type of guitar you're playing (e.g., solidbody vs. archtop) and what style you tend toward (e.g., jazz vs. metal).
posted by cribcage at 6:58 PM on August 28, 2010

I saw him open for Huey Lewis and the News back in maybe 1985 or so.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:02 PM on August 28, 2010

Hah-- I saw him open for The Clash. I shit you not.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:08 PM on August 28, 2010

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