Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, US (1954), Vaughan began playing guitar at age 7, inspired by older brother Jimmie. Learning by ear, he was inspired by the aritists he listened at the time. Blues artists such as Albert King, Otis Rush, and Muddy Waters, and rock guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack.
At age 11, Vaughan joined his first band, the Chantones, in 1965. Their first show was at a talent contest held in Dallas' Hill Theatre, but after realizing that they could not perform a Jimmy Reed song in its entirety, Vaughan left the band and joined the Brooklyn Underground, playing professionally at local bars and clubs.When Jimmie left home at age sixteen, Vaughan's apparent obsession with the instrument caused a lack of support from his parents. Miserable at home, he took a job at a local hamburger stand, where he washed dishes and dumped trash for seventy cents an hour. After falling into a barrel of grease, he grew tired of the job and quit to devote his life to a music career.
Stevie's first real band was the Cobras, who played clubs and bars in Austin during the mid-'70s. Following that group's demise, he formed Triple Threat in 1975. Triple Threat also featured bassist Jackie Newhouse, drummer Chris Layton and vocalist Lou Ann Barton. After a few years of playing Texas bars and clubs, Barton left the band in 1978. The group decided to continue performing under the name Double Trouble, which was inspired by the Otis Rush song of the same name. Stevie became the band's lead singer.
For the next few years, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble played the Austin area, becoming one of the most popular bands in Texas. In 1982, the band played the Montreux Festival, as the first unsigned artist to play there. Their performance caught the attention of David Bowie and Jackson Browne. After Double Trouble's performance, Bowie asked Vaughan to play on his forthcoming album, while Browne offered the group free recording time at his Los Angeles studio. Both offers were accepted and Stevie laid down the lead guitar tracks for what became Bowie's Let's Dance album in late 1982. Shortly afterward, John Hammond, Sr. landed Stevie and Double Trouble a record contract with Epic, and the band recorded its debut album in less than a week at Browne's studio.
performance was the first time that they got booed , but the performance caught the eye of David Bowie and Jackson Browne. After Double Trouble’s performance, Bowie asked Vaughan to play on his forthcoming album, Let’s Dance, which, with Stevie’s lead guitar on six of the eight songs, became Bowie’s best selling record to date.
Bowie offered Stevie the lead guitarist role for his 1983 stadium tour, but he turned him down, preferring to play with Double Trouble and promoting his own album.
Stevie and Double Trouble set off on a successful tour and quickly recorded their second album, Couldn't Stand the Weather, which was released in May of 1984. The album was more successful than its predecessor, reaching number 31 on the charts; by the end of 1985, the album went gold. Double Trouble added keyboardist Reese Wynans in 1985, before they recorded their third album, Soul to Soul. The record was released in August 1985 and was also quite successful, reaching number 34 on the charts.
According to Vaughan: "it got to the point where if I'd try to say "hi" to somebody, I would just fall apart crying. It was like solid doom."
In September 1986, Double Trouble traveled to Denmark for a one-month tour of Europe.During the late night hours of September , Vaughan became ill after a performance in Ludwigshafen, Germany, suffering from near-death dehydration, for which he received medical treatment.The incident resulted in his checking into The London Clinic under the care of Dr. Victor Bloom, who warned him that he was a month away from death. After staying in London for more than a week, he returned to the United States and entered Peachford Hospital in Atlanta, where he spent four weeks in rehabilitation, and then checked into rehab in Austin.
Almost three weeks of the European tour were cancelled while Vaughan successfully rehabilitated back in the States. The band released the double live album Live Alive in November of 1986 and launched an extensive American tour in support. Although the band’s touring schedule slackened slightly, Vaughan performed many concerts in 1988, including opening for the Robert Plant tour, a headlining gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a European tour and he still found time to record his fourth album. The resulting record, In Step, appeared in June of 1989, peaking at number 33 on the charts, earning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Recording, and going gold just over six months after its release.
On Monday, August 27, 1990. Vaughan and members of Eric Clapton's touring entourage played an all-star encore jam session at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Alpine Valley Resort in East Troy, Wisconsin. They then left for Midway International Airport in Chicago in a helicopter, the most common way for acts to enter and exit the venue, as there is only one road in and out, heavily used by fans. The helicopter crashed into a nearby ski hill shortly after takeoff. Vaughan and the four others on board died. All five men died instantly. The investigation determined the aircraft departed in foggy conditions with visibility reportedly under two miles, according to a local forecast.
The National Transportation Safety Board report stated: "As the third helicopter was departing, it remained at a lower altitude than the others, and the pilot turned southeasterly toward rising terrain. Subsequently, the helicopter crashed on hilly terrain about three-fifths of a mile from the takeoff point. Brown was qualified to fly by instruments in a fixed-wing aircraft, but not in a helicopter. Toxicology tests performed on the victims revealed no traces of drugs or alcohol in their systems. Vaughan's funeral service was held on August 31, 1990, at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. His wooden casket quickly became adorned with bouquets of flowers. An estimated 3,000 mourners joined a procession led by a white hearse. Among those at the public ceremony