Vaughan Brothers, The

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Vaughan Brothers, The

Vaughan Brothers, The, blues guitarists, jimmie Vaughan (b. Dallas, March 20, 1951); Stevie Ray Vaughan (b. Dallas, Oct. 3, 1954; d. East Troy, Wise, Aug. 27, 1990). THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS, R&B group. membership:Jimmie Vaughan, gtr.; Kim Wilson, voc, har. (b. Detroit, Jan. 6, 1951); Keith Ferguson, bs. (b. Houston, Tex., July 23, 1946; d. Austin, Tex., April 29,1997); Mike Buck, drm. (b. June 17,1952). Mike Buck left in 1980, to be replaced by Fran Christina (b. Westerly, R.I., Feb. 1, 1951). In 1984 Keith Ferguson departed and was replaced by Preston Hubbard (b. Providence, R.I., March 15,1953). Group reorganized in 1991 with Wilson, Christina, Hubbard, and guitarists Duke Robillard (b. Woonsocket, R.I., Oct. 4, 1948) and Kid Bangham. STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE, blues group. membership:Stevie Ray Vaughan, gtr.; Tommy Shannon, bs.; Chris Layton, drm. Reese Wynans joined as keyboardist in 1985.

As lead guitarists with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Double Trouble, respectively, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan helped foster the blues revival of the 1980s, along with artists such as George Thorogood and Robert Cray. While the Fabulous Thunderbirds favored a more R&B style, scoring their biggest hit with 1986’s ’Tuff Enuff,” Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble played under the influence of Tex. and Chicago blues guitarists, as well as Jimi Hendrix. Jimmie Vaughan left the Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1990 and recorded Family Stylewith his brother, but on Aug. 27, 1990, Stevie Ray was killed in a helicopter crash in East Troy, Wise. Jimmie Vaughan has since recorded a solo album, while the Fabulous Thunderbirds continue to tour with new guitarist Duke Robillard. The remaining members of Double Trouble have recorded an album with two new guitarists as Arc Angel.

Stevie Ray Vaughan began playing guitar in 1963, by which time his brother Jimmie was playing with such Dallas groups as the Swinging Pendulums. Stevie Ray began playing Dallas clubs at 14 with such bands as Blackbird and Cracker Jack. Jimmie moved to Austin in 1970, where he formed Storm with guitarist Denny Freeman. After a brief stay in Calif., Jimmie returned to Austin, forming Jimmie Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds with vocalist Lou Ann Barton and drummer Otis Lewis. Barton and Lewis left in late 1974, and Keith Ferguson, a veteran of both Storm and the Night-crawlers (with Stevie Ray), joined, as did Kim Wilson, who became the group’s chief songwriter and musical director as well as lead singer and harmonica player.

With the addition of drummer Mike Buck, the Fabulous Thunderbirds became the house band at the recently opened Austin club Antone’s; they subsequently won a reputation as one of the most engaging blues bands in the state. Their first recognition outside Tex. came at the 1978 San Francisco Blues Festival, and they signed with Takoma Records. In 1980 Fran Christina replaced Mike Buck during the recording of What’s the Wordon Takoma’s parent label Chrysalis. The Fabulous Thunderbirds played up to three hundred engagements a year, yet their albums failed to sell and they were dropped by Chrysalis in 1982.

Stevie Ray Vaughan followed his brother to Austin in 1973, where he played with the Nightcrawlers and the Cobras. Around 1977 he formed Triple Threat with Lou Ann Barton and guitarist W. C. Clark. By 1978 Barton had left and the band evolved into Double Trouble, with Vaughan, bassist Tommy Shannon from Blackbird and Cracker Jack, and drummer Chris Lay ton. In April 1982 the band auditioned in N.Y.C, for the Rolling Stones, and in July Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler convinced the promoters of Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival to book Vaughan and the band. Among those in the audience were Jackson Browne and David Bowie. Vaughan subsequently played guitar on six songs for Bowie’s Let’s Dancealbum, including the hits “Let’s Dance/’ “China Girl,” and “Modern Love.”

Jackson Browne offered the group free studio time at his studio in Los Angeles, and John Hammond Jr., the blues-playing son of Columbia executive John Hammond, submitted a tape recording of the group’s performance at Montreux to his father. Signed to the Columbia subsidiary Epic, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble used the studio time to record their debut album, 1983’s Texas Flood,generally considered the group’s finest album. The follow-up Couldn’t Stand the Weatherfeatured Vaughan’s stunning rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” and 1985’s Soul to Soulsaw the permanent addition of keyboardist Reese Wynans.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds continued to tour arduously following the expiration of their Chrysalis contract. Keith Ferguson left in 1984 and was replaced by Preston Hubbard. They then recorded Tuff Enuffin London in 1985 with Dave Edmunds producing, and the album became a best-seller when released on CBS Associated, producing a major hit with the title song and a moderate hit with “Wrap It Up.” The band began playing concert halls rather than clubs, but subsequent albums sold progressively less well. Jimmie Vaughan left the group in 1990 and recorded Family Stylewith his brother Stevie Ray. However, before the album’s release, Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash on Aug. 27, 1990, in East Troy, Wise, after performing at a concert with his brother, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, and Buddy Guy.

With Kim Wilson and Fran Christina as mainstays, the Fabulous Thunderbirds regrouped with guitarists Duke Robillard and Kid Bangham, and, later, pianist Gene Taylor, but by 1993 the band was again without a recording contract. Double Trouble musicians Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton formed Arc Angels with guitarists Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall II, recording an album for DGC Records in 1992. Jimmie Vaughan recorded his solo debut album in 1994.


THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS: The Fabulous Thunderbirds (1979); What’s the Word (1980); Butt Rockin’ (1981); T-Bird Rhythm (1982); The Essential Fabulous Thunderbirds (1991); Tuff Enuff (1986); Hot Number (1987); Powerful Stuff (1989); Walk That Walk, Talk (1991); Hot Stuff: The Greatest (1992); Roll of the Dice (1995). STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE: In the Beginning (1992); Texas Flood (1983); Couldn’t Stand the Weather (1984); Soul to Soul (1985); Live Alive (1986); In Step (1989); The Sky Is Crying (1991). THE VAUGHAN BROTHERS: Family Style (1990). JIMMIE VAUGHAN: Strange Pleasure (1994). ARC ANGELS: Arc Angels (1992).

—Brock Helander

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