My first interview with Stevie Ray Vaughan, when he sang me three lines of an Earl King song

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photo by Mila Geran

Thirty years ago today–on August 26, 1985–I did my first interview with Stevie Ray Vaughan, and man was I psyched about it. He was coming to Vancouver for two shows at the Commodore Ballroom, and he called me up from a tour stop in Edmonton.

I’d met him briefly in person before–when he played Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum in 1983, opening (strangely enough) for Australia’s Men at Work–but this was my first lengthy conversation with the guitar legend.

I’d only get the opportunity to interview him one more time–in July of 1990, the month before his death.

Here’s the story, originally published in the Sept. 6-13, 1985, issue of the Georgia Straight.

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By Stevie Ross Newton

Texas blues guitar hero Stevie Ray Vaughan was in town last Saturday, for two sold out shows at the Commodore Ballroom. Prior to his appearance the Straight caught up with Stevie, and asked him about his upcoming LP Soul to Soul, his new keyboardist Reese Wynans, and his major influences Lonnie Mack and brother Jimmie Vaughan.

I understand there’s a new member of Double Trouble.

Uh huh. Reese Wynans.

Where’s he from, and how did you find him?

Well, he’s originally from Florida–he’s been in Austin for quite a while. I’ve known him for a couple or three years. He was with Delbert [McClinton] for about five.

How has the addition of a keyboardist changed the way you play live?

It’s just stronger, that’s all [chuckles].

Was the move to a four-piece something that you’ve been contemplating for a while?

Well I had wanted to work with Reese in the past, it’s just that due to schedules, his and mine–and old phone numbers–it hasn’t worked out until now.

Does he play on your new album, Soul to Soul?

He’s all over it.

Is the album out yet?

It’ll be out in about a week or so. Week and a half maybe. It should–at the very latest–be in all the stores by the ninth of September.

Is the new record much different from your first two?

Well, it’s a lot of blues. And it’s a lot of rock and roll. There’s some jazz on it. And there’s a couple of soul tap tunes on it. I say “soul tap” because…it’s like Otis Redding changes, but…just the way we play ’em. All that put together.

What cover songs are on it?

Uh, let’s see here. A Hank Ballard song called “Little Sister”. A little jazz tune, an Eddie Harris song off the Exodus album, called “Tonk’d On Home”. You know which one that is?

I don’t think so.

[Sings] “Ba bomp bomp bomp bomp domp domp domp.” It starts out like this. Then it has the bass [sings] “Pdom dom do dom dom dom pdom.”

Yeah, I think I’ve heard that one.

“Pdah pdah dah pdah doh pen da.” It’s a fun tune.

Any other covers on it?

There’s “Come On”. It’s an Earl King song. Jimi Hendrix did “Part Two”. [Sings] “Come on baby let the good times roll.” That one.

Which Hendrix album was it on?

Uh…God, let’s see. Possibly Electric Ladyland, I believe. You know, [sings] “A lot of people livin’ make believe. Keep a lotta dirt up their sleeve.” That one.

Was John Hammond the executive producer of Soul to Soul, as on your other albums?

Yeah. But he was unable to be there. We did it in Texas, and he was not in the best of health at the time. He had a stroke. And he’s–bless his heart–he’s goin’ strong again. It’s just that he had a little bout with a near miss.

I’ve been reading an issue of Guitar World magazine, where it says that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards discovered you in a Dallas bar.

That’s a little bit off. They came across us on a videotape in Austin.

And they were going to sign you to their own label?

That was considered. It didn’t happen of course, but it was considered.

Are you a fan of the Stones?

Yeah, they’re tough.

Was it a thrill for you to play on Lonnie Mack’s latest album?

Numb! Actually, we’ve known each other for quite some time. And we’ve wanted to work together. In fact he wanted to produce us since he saw us in ’79. He moved to Austin about a year and a half ago, and we just finally got together.

That’s a hot album, Strike Like Lightning.

Oh, it’s tough. It’s fine.

Lonnie’s a wild guitar player.

He invented a lot of this stuff.

Was he your biggest influence on guitar?

Well, he made the first record I ever bought. But the biggest influence was my brother, Jimmie Vaughan [guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds].

Are the Fabulous Thunderbirds going to have another album out?

They’ve got one finished, they’re just waiting on the release of it.

Have you ever jammed with Jimmie and the Thunderbirds?

Oh yeah. I played guitar. Played drums with him one time [laughs].

Would you play on one of their records if they asked you to?

Yeah. I had planned on Jimmie playin’ on Soul to Soul, and we had talked about me playing on one of theirs as well. It’s just that they were recording theirs in Europe and we were doin’ ours in Texas. It’s kind of hard to do both.

You played the Commodore Ballroom here last year. What do you think of the place?

I like it! And they have some of the coolest T-shirts I’ve ever seen, the Commodore does. Or did then.

I wanted to ask you about videos. Do you have one coming out?

Well, we’re still working on which one to use. Because we were going to do “Little Sister”, but there’s a problem with the publisher of the song. So we’re seeing what else we’re gonna go for.

“Cold Shot” sure was a funny video.

Well that was fun, thank you.

Didn’t you get hurt with that car draggin’ you around like that?

Aha! Not as much as when they threw me off the building [laughs].

Are you going to make another funny video?

We’ll probably try to. If it’s a song that could call for it, we probably will pull it out of the hat.

That woman in the “Cold Shot” video…

Incredible isn’t she?

She’s not your real girlfriend, is she?

No! No, I’m married. I’ve been married for six years, to a lovely woman. The girl that’s in the video, Margaret Wiley, she’s hilarious, and I love her. But it’s not that same way [chuckles].

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