CLEVELAND — John Mayer said it about as plainly as it could be said: “Some flowers come up through the ground in full bloom.”
With those words, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the kid from south Oak Cliff who grew into the “real guitar hero,” became a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
It was an emotional speech on an emotional night when Vaughan, who died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin in 1990, and his band Double Trouble finally got their due.
Vaughan died at the height of his blossoming career. Armed with a signature Stratocaster, the Texas bluesman was a dynamo on six strings. Best known for songs like “Pride and Joy” and “Look at Little Sister,” he won a Grammy for his mesmerizing cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing.”
"He loved playing guitar more than anybody I know."
Vaughan’s style was unique, said Mayer, who presented the Texas axman and his band for induction.
“It’s a rage without the anger; it’s devotional; it’s religious,” Mayer said. “It was as otherworldly as Hendrix, but where Hendrix was coming down from outer space, Stevie came up from below the ground. He was the ultimate guitar hero, and heroes live forever.”
Vaughan’s older brother, Jimmie, who rose to fame with another Texas blues group, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, spoke in a strong voice about the little brother he misses every day.
“He was a great guitar player,” Vaughan said. “He could play beautiful, he could play mean and he could play fun. He could drag you along.
“Our dad used to say, ‘He’s a mean motor-scooter,’ and he is. But what you heard with Stevie was his enthusiasm for everything. That’s why people love his music. ... He loved playing guitar more than anybody I know.”
The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015 also includes the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Green Day, Lou Reed, Ringo Starr, Bill Withers and the “5” Royales.
They were all inducted Saturday night in the same hall in Cleveland where the Beatles played a 1964 gig. The evening was to be made even more special with two of the Beatles coming together to play.
Starr, previously enshrined with the Beatles in 1988, is the last of the group to have his work outside the band recognized. Starr was to be inducted by Paul McCartney, whose influence helped get his former drummer honored.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Chuck Yarborough, pop music critic for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, is a native Texan and has covered Stevie Ray Vaughan almost since the late guitar slinger was the pride and joy of just Oak Cliff.