This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #103: Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble.
One of the most surprising facts I have learned about Stevie Ray Vaughn was that, in a career that has positioned him as being one of the most legendary Blues guitarists of all-time, he only actually performed as a recording artist for seven years. Stevie Ray Vaughn died in a helicopter crash, when he was still very much a young man, barely into his thirties. In the short time that he was an active recording artist, SRV (as he was known by), produced four albums of original work. Since his death, his older brother, Jimmie Vaughn (an accomplished Blues man in his own right) has curated his brother’s career and put together several other compilation albums of Greatest Hits and/or Live performances. Because of Jimmie’s efforts, it may seem as though Stevie Ray Vaughn has been around forever but, the truth is that he was gone before his career had barely begun. Here is the story of Stevie Ray Vaughn; one of the very best Blues guitarists to grace a stage.
Stevie was born and raised in Texas. He was immersed in the world of the Blues all of his life. He began playing the guitar when he was just a child and, eventually, dropped out of high school in order to pursue a professional career. After gaining a reputation as a bit of a prodigy in the Austin, Texas area, Stevie Ray Vaughn began getting opportunities to play on bigger and bigger stages. One of those opportunities brought him to the Montreaux Jazz Festival, where he was spotted by, none other than, Mr. David Bowie. Bowie was so impressed with him that he asked Vaughn to play guitar on his 80’s career-reviving album, “Let’s Dance”. SRV did so and then, ended up joining two men named Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton, to form their band, “Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble”. Their first album was called, “Texas Flood” and was heralded as being one of the best Blues albums in years. As Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble toured, playing Blues guitar became a fashionable thing. This opened doors for other performers such as Canada’s own, Jeff Healey, along with the uber talented, Robert Cray.
Unfortunately, all throughout the early part of his career, Stevie Ray Vaughn and both members of Double Trouble experienced difficulties with addiction to drugs and alcohol. SRV’s addiction caused him to lose his marriage and, eventually, to have to enter rehab; not just to revive his career but, more importantly, to actually save his own life. The rehab process was gruelling for Vaughn. When he emerged a year later, he was unsure of himself as a performer. He didn’t know how much of his success had been because of the booze and how much was actually because of him. So, he released a new album of songs that were inspired by his rehab. The album was called, “In Step”. From that album came a song called, “Crossfire”, which went on to become his highest charting single of all-time. His success was very inspiring to others. At the time, another Blues guitarist of note, Bonnie Raitt, was struggling with addiction, too. Seeing SRV come through the rehab process allowed her the courage to try that, as well. Consequently, her career took off because of the example Stevie Ray Vaughn set.
Not long after the release of “In Step”, Stevie Ray Vaughn perished in a helicopter crash, along with four others. He left behind a career that saw him win six Grammy Awards, along with being inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and just about any and every Blues Hall of Fame imaginable. I will post a live video of him performing “Crossfire” with Double Trouble. In the video, it is so obvious to see how totally in control of his guitar he was. When he plays, it is almost as if he is dancing with his instrument, making it play at his will, cradling it almost like a lover. His playing style is so commanding that it reminds me of how Jimi Hendrix was with his guitars. There is no doubt that Stevie Ray Vaughn was one of the best of all-time. Too bad we didn’t get the chance to see him enjoy a full career. Who knows how high he would have climbed in the pantheon of the greats. For now, we must appreciate the vast treasure that was his career and enjoy the performances we have to watch.
So, without further delay, here is Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, with their biggest selling song, “Crossfire”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Crossfire” by Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.