Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan

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Editor's note: A feature profile of Stevie Ray Vaughan by Dallas Morning News staff writer Diane Jennings was published June 10, 1990, less than three months before his death. Read that original story here.

Blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was already a legend in music circles when we met for a wide-ranging interview in the spring of 1990.

When Vaughan died several months later, it was startling to see the newspaper photo that accompanied the story posted at his gravesite.

A quarter century after that interview, what stands out in memory is his humility, his delight in small pleasures and his struggle to come to terms with who he was.

Vaughan traveled the world and was recognized as a blues icon, but never lost touch with where he came from.

Vaughan knew he had supreme talent but accepted it as a gift he never took for granted and worked constantly to improve. “I don’t mean this to sound big-headed or anything,” he said, “but I always knew I was going to be doing something with the talents that I was given.”

The interview that Diane Jennings did with Stevie Ray Vaughan ran in The Dallas Morning News less than three months before his death.

The interview that Diane Jennings did with Stevie Ray Vaughan ran in The Dallas Morning News less than three months before his death.

His desire not to sound big-headed showed in the way he dealt with fans who interrupted our conversation at a restaurant to say hello or ask for an autograph. He seemed uncomfortable with the adulation but gracious with the requests because he remembered doing the same thing when he was a child, waiting for B.B. King’s autograph.

Vaughan and King headlined a concert in Dallas in June that year. When Vaughan died, King said Vaughan “was like one of my children.”

After several years of sobriety, Vaughan said he was not well, but “I do the things that give me a chance.”

To help him stay sober, he enlisted friends and family. For instance, when the band toured, instead of partying in clubs, sometimes they went bowling.

Vaughan worried that sharing his story of finally getting clean after years of drugs and drinking seemed self-serving, but he did it to help others.

Sobriety made him “happier than I’ve ever been,” he said, and he delighted in doing things like reading books he’d missed as a kid when he focused on growing up fast.

Vaughan traveled the world and was recognized as a blues icon, but never lost touch with where he came from. He admired his brother Jimmie, who he insisted was the more talented of the two. Early in his career, when his band was invited to play at a private party for the Rolling Stones, he measured that success by saying that was “worth a call to my mother.”

The music world lost a terrific musician when his helicopter crashed a few months later; the rest of us lost one of the good guys.

Diane Jennings is a staff writer for The Dallas Morning News.

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