23 years ago today, I woke up to my girlfriend (now my wife) calling me and asking me if I had heard from Buddy. Seems a helicopter had crashed leaving Alpine Valley, WI. I called Buddy’s house and got a busy signal. I turned on MTV (They used to have a music news segment). They (Kurt Loder, actually) announced that a helicopter had crashed and members of Eric Clapton’s entourage had been killed. I finally got in touch with Buddy, who was fielding calls from the media. He told me that Stevie had passed.
As it turned out Stevie had passed along with Jeff Brown, Bobby Brooks, Nigel Browne and Colin Smythe. All of these souls have families and friends that mourn their loss and I pray for all of them. Stevie was special to me as a guitarist. I got to meet him several times and he was always gracious and kind. The photo that I posted today was the first time I met him and, as you can tell from the picture, I was horrified! I’ve been starstruck 4 times in my life; meeting Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Prince and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I would include meeting Al Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix’s dad, but I had already met Jimi so many times in my dreams that it just seemed natural.
I miss Stevie. I barely knew him. I learned to play guitar by emulating him and following his clues for other guitarists. I met him in Tampa, again in NYC at the Beacon and Buff and I met him in Nashville on his last tour. At that time I had been with Buddy for about 6 months and introduced myself as Buddy’s guitar player. I don’t think Stevie believed me. I’m sure that now he know’s I was telling the truth, if he ever cared:).
What a shadow! A lot of guitarists are employed now, that wouldn’t have been, if Stevie had lived. Thanks Stevie, FLY ON!