Did you ever have one of those awkward instances where somebody gives you some terribly bad news and you feel absolutely horrible? And THEN, the same person apologizes to you and says they got the information incorrectly and you start feeling a whole lot better almost immediately? And THEN, half a beat later, they give you the correct news which is just as bad, if not worse?

True story. On this date, 28 years ago, I came home from running some errands and Mom greeted me with the awful news. I can't recall her exact words, something along the lines of, "Son, I just saw it on the news. Eric Clapton is dead. Helicopter crash." Needless to say, being a huge Clapton fan, I was devastated. Eric Clapton?? Eric CLAPTON??? This man practically introduced me to rock music between his solo career and all of his groups--Cream; Blind Faith; the Yardbirds; Derek & the Dominoes; Delaney & Bonnie.

I was lost in thought over the man and all the great music he'd given us, not really paying attention when I heard Mom say, "Oh, I'm sorry. It wasn't Eric Clapton." And just as that happy thought struck my brain, Mom continues with, "It was Stevie Ray Vaughn". I had to sit down immediately for fear of passing out. Great. ANOTHER Guitar Legend. It was like some awful practical joke. Eric Clapton is dead....Wait. No he isn't....Stevie Ray Vaughn is dead. Of course, my loving mother had not intended it that way. Turns out, the news reported the truth and Mom just misinterpreted it. Stevie Ray Vaughn along with members of Eric Clapton's ENTOURAGE died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. But the fact that my mother just misunderstood the news didn't soften the blow any.

In his tragically short life(he was just 35 years old when he died), SRV was a guitar wunderkind, and his influence is still felt long after his passing. Stevie(along with his backing band, Double Trouble) has received numerous awards during his lifetime and posthumously and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. There was a time during the 1980's where everybody wanted to work with Stevie and that included many of the blues idols that Stevie looked up to. Think of how great an honor that is. To have some of the people who inspired you to pick up an instrument and then to master that instrument want to share the stage or recording studio with you. That's pretty awesome.

Now I realize that listening to the blues is an acquired taste for some people. But Stevie Ray Vaughn was so good that he brought blues to the masses and opened the ears of many people who would never have given blues music a second listen in the past. And the songs will live forever: "Look At Little Sister"; "Pride and Joy"; "Tightrope"; "The Sky is Crying"; "Texas Flood"; "Crossfire"; "Couldn't Stand the Weather"; "Tick Tock"(with his brother Jimmy Vaughn); "Life Without You"; "Empty Arms"; his scorching cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child(Slight Return)"; "Life By the Drop"; the list goes on and on.

I was extremely fortunate to catch Stevie Ray Vaughn in concert at SPAC shortly before his passing and to say that it was a fantastic concert is a vast understatement. Literally one of the best concerts I have ever seen in any music genre. Stevie, thanks for spreading the word, the message, the LOVE of the Blues. You'll never be forgotten.

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