Hard to believe that on this day in 1990 we lost a treasure… a Guitar G-d…
It was on this day 22 years ago that the music literally died.
Well, the music actually never dies… or at least we hope and pray it doesn’t. As long as we keep our ears and our hearts open… and really, truly listen… music can last forever. We still have Mozart and Beethoven… Gershwin and Lennon… Orbison and Harrison… and on and on…
And today, though a sad remembrance, we realize that we still do have Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Wikipedia recalls the day like this:
“On August 27, 1990, all of the musicians boarded four helicopters bound for Chicago, which were waiting on a nearby golf course. According to a witness, there was reportedly haze and fog of varying intensity with patches of low clouds. Despite the conditions, the pilots were instructed to fly over a 1000-foot ski hill. Vaughan, along with three members of Clapton’s entourage, boarded the third of the four helicopters–a Bell 206B Jet Ranger–flying to Meigs Field. At about 12:50 am (CDT), the helicopter departed from an elevation of about 850 feet, veered to the left and crashed into the hill. All of the passengers, including the pilot, Jeff Brown, were killed instantly.
At 4:30 am, Civil Air Patrol was notified of the accident, ultimately locating the crash site almost three hours later. Both Clapton and Jimmie were told to identify the bodies; a Coptic cross necklace, worn by Vaughan, was given to Jimmie. The Walworth County coroner conducted an autopsy and found that Vaughan suffered from multiple internal and skull injuries. The cause of death was officially stated as “exsanguination due to transverse laceration of the aorta”. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a veteran pilot for Alpine Valley suspected that Brown attempted to fly around the ski hill, but misjudged the location. Clapton issued a statement the next day, saying that the victims “were my companions, my associates and my friends. This is a tragic loss of some very special people. I will miss all of them very much.”
Vaughan’s memorial was held on August 30, 1990, at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, where he was buried next to his father, and was preceded by a private chapel service for close friends and family. Reverend Barry Bailey of the United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, who was Vaughan’s AA sponsor, opened the service with personal thoughts: “We’re here to thank God for this man’s life. He was a genius, a superstar, a musician’s musician. He captured the hearts of thousands and thousands of people. I am thankful for the impact of this man’s influence on thousands of people in getting his own life together in the name of God.” Kim Wilson, Jeff Healey, Charlie Sexton, ZZ Top, Colin James, and Buddy Guy attended the event. Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, and Bonnie Raitt sang “Amazing Grace” at the event. Nile Rodgers gave a eulogy, while a member of the Nightcrawlers read chapters five and eleven from The Big Book, a self-help book by Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1995, the Vaughan family received an undisclosed settlement for wrongful death.”
So now that I have fully depressed all of you… let me at least give you something to celebrate… something to remember… something to sing to… or at least air guitar to… Some of you may be better suited to air singing.
Stevie Ray Vaughn – “Tightrope” (Written by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Doyle Bramhall)
“Caught up in a whirlwind can’t catch my breath
Knee deep in hot water, broke out in a cold sweat
Can’t catch a turtle in this rat race
Feels like I’m losin’ time at a breakneck pace
Afraid of my own shadow in the face of grace
Heart full of darkness spotlight on my face
There was love all around me but I was lookin’ for revenge
Thank God it never found me would have been the end
Walkin’ the tightrope, steppin’ on my friends
Walkin’ the tightrope, it was a shame and a sin
Walkin’ the tightrope between wrong and right
Walkin’ the tightrope both day and night
Lookin’ back in front of me, the mirror’s a grin
Through eyes of love I see I’m really lookin’ at a friend
We’ve all had our problems, that’s the way life is
My heart goes out to others, who are there to make amends?
We’ve been walkin’ the tightrope tryin’ to make it right
Walkin’ the tightrope, every day and every night
Walkin’ the tightrope, bring it all around
Walkin’ the tightrope from the lost to found
Walkin’ the tightrope, stretched around the world
Walkin’ the tightrope, save the boys and girls
Walkin’ the tightrope, let’s make it right
Walkin’ the tightrope, do it, do it tonight
Walkin’ the tightrope”