STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN and……triple trouble?
December – 1978 – Stubb’s Barbecue, Lubbock, Texas
Stephen Ray Vaughan was born to Martha and Jackson Lee Vaughan at Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas on October 3, 1954, three years after his brother, Jimmie Vaughan. Stevie’s father, whose nickname became “Big Jim”, was an asbestos worker whose job carried the family to cities across Texas. Wherever there was an opening, the family would pack up and move to another city.
The Vaughan family finally moved into a small house in Dallas. The tension in the home was high, however, as Big Jim had a temper when he drank alcohol.
Big Jim and Martha loved to dance to Western Swing, and it was the boys’ first exposure to music. The Texas Playboys, a country band, would hang out at the Vaughans’ house often, playing dominoes with Big Jim. The Playboys would bring alcoholic beverages to the house and Stevie would sneak sips when nobody was looking. This started him on his addiction to alcohol.
When Jimmie broke his shoulder playing football when he was 12, family friend Michael Quinn gave him his first guitar. Soon after, Stevie got one of his own: a plastic Roy Rogers toy guitar from Sears, with only three strings. Stevie recalls that it also came with a set of blankets.
The boys, uninterested in taking formal guitar lessons, taught themselves to play by listening to records by Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, and The Beatles, that Jimmie brought home. The brothers were also drawn to blues music and taught themselves the guitar techniques of blues guitarists like Albert and B.B. King, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy.
At the age of 15, Jimmie was the lead guitarist in a local cover band called The Chessmen, and played gigs all over Texas. One day when bandmate Doyle Bramhall came to pick up Jimmie for a gig, he saw young Stevie playing along to the song Jeff’s Boogie by The Yardbirds. Bramhall became the first to tell Stevie Ray Vaughan that he was actually good.
When he was 17, Vaughan got a tattoo of a peacock on his chest. It was initially supposed to be much bigger, but realizing the pain of the process altered Stevie’s body-art plans.
Stevie was playing in rock bands by age 12. His first recording was for a garage rock band called “A Cast of Thousands”, and his style stood out. He had paying gigs when he entered high school: first with Jimmie’s new band, Texas Storm, and then with his own group, Blackbird. Stevie would play late night sets at local bars.
Stevie’s and Jimmie’s focus on music caused their grades to drop. Their alarmed parents tried to intervene, but it was too late: in 1967, Jimmie moved in with Doyle. Stevie, left at home, decided to take a job washing dishes at the local Dairy Mart. Part of his job was to clean out the trash bin, which required standing on top of 55-gallon wooden-lidded barrels that were used for storing grease. One day the wooden lid broke on one of the barrels and Stevie fell up to his chest in grease–and was fired for breaking the lid. He decided that, rather than try to get another job like this, he would pursue his dream of being a guitar player like Albert King, his current favorite.
In early 1971, both Jimmie and Doyle grew tired of the fading music scene in Dallas and moved to Austin to give it another try. A year later, Stevie followed with his band, Blackbird. At 17 years old, he dropped out of high school during Christmas break and hit the road.
When he first came to Austin, Stevie and his band didn’t have much money, so he would sleep on a barroom pool table, but he fit in with the more appreciative music scene on the east side of town. With blues clubs like the Soap Creek Saloon, Vulcan Gas Company, and Antone’s, Stevie could trade licks with the blues masters he grew up listening to. Clifford Antone, one of the club owners, took notice and practically begged Albert King to let 17-year-old Stevie play guitar with him. After much convincing, he finally agreed–and was very impressed when he heard Stevie play his own licks.
Sharing riffs with these admired masters was Stevie’s dream come true, but making a career in Austin turned out to be tougher than he had thought. In 1973, he joined a promising rock group called Krackerjack, which included future bassist Tommy Shannon, whom he met after a stint at a club in Dallas called “The Fog.” Stevie quit when the leader decided they should wear makeup on stage. The next year, he was asked to join Marc Benno and the Nightcrawlers, a blues band that included singer Doyle Bramhall and future Bee Gees bassist Russ Powell. The Nightcrawlers drove from Texas to Los Angeles to record an album, but Benno’s record label rejected the tapes, and Stevie traveled back to Texas.
In 1975, he hooked up with another popular Austin group, Paul Ray and the Cobras, a two-guitar band with Stevie in the background. After two years, they only had one single recorded, and Stevie grew frustrated and quit. He was still in the shadow of his big brother. Jimmie’s new group, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, were the talk of Austin, and became the house band at Antone’s. In late 1977, Stevie decided it was time to put together a band of his own called “Triple Threat,” which included bass player, W.C. Clark, Freddie “Pharoah” Walden on drums, and singer Lou Ann Barton.
On December 23, 1979, Stevie Vaughan married a tough-minded Lebanese woman named Lenora “Lenny” Bailey between sets at the Rome Inn in Austin, TX.
W.C. Clark left Triple Threat in mid-1978, and Stevie renamed the band “Double Trouble.” He then asked drummer Chris Layton to join the band. After an embarrassing post-show incident with drunken Lou Ann, Stevie became the new lead singer and guitar player after he fired her. Around this time, he hired a management company called “Classic Management” that consisted of manager Chesley Milikin, and financial assistant, Frances Carr.
Stevie Ray guitar-vocals
Lou Ann Barton Vocals
Jack Newhouse bass
Johnny Reno Sax
01 Guitar Hurricane
02 Tin Pan Alley
04 Lost Your Good Thing Now
05 Shake For Me
06 Tell Me
08 I’ll Change
09 Call On Me (may be called “Umph!”)
10 Hip Shake Baby
01 Stangs Swang
02 (Jazzy Instrumental)
03 Woke Up This Mornin
04 My Baby She’s Gone (may be called “Now Be Careful”)
05 I’m Crying
06 I’ve Tried Pretty Baby
07 Hug You Squeeze You
08 Rude Mood