Stevie Ray Vaughan’s opinion on Jimi Hendrix
Over the decades the term “Guitar Hero” was used to describe incredible guitar players that infleunced countless generations of musicians. But not many, can be put on the same league as the late Jimi Hendrix, who completely changed the way people saw the electric guitar. Over the decades, many artists were compared to him, including the late Blues Rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.
During his short career, the musician was compared a lot to Hendrix and often was asked to give him opinion on the legendary musician.
What is Stevie Ray Vaughan’s opinion on Jimi Hendrix
Even though Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan were a few decades apart, both of them had a big impact in the music business and had their career cut short too soon because of their tragic deaths. Vaughan released his first studio album in 1983, 13 years after Hendrix’s death and on his second album “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” (1984) he covered his first Hendrix song.
His version for “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” is probably the most famous one done by another artist. In the TV special Rock Stars made in 1990, he was asked what the song meant to him and he said: “To me, it’s like Hendrix doing his own ‘Hoochie Coochie Man.’ I just really liked how it always sounded. And songs that I really like how they sound, I’ve found that I usually have a little easier time playing, because I really listen to them. We tried the song and it felt real good. So we just kept doin’ it,” Stevie Ray Vaughan said.
Vaughan didn’t agree when people compared him with Hendrix
The success of his rendition resulted in another Hendrix track on his next album “Soul To Soul” released in 1985. The musician covered the classic “Little Wing/Third Stone from the Sun”. Those versions contributed even more to the comparation made often by the press between Hendrix and Vaughan. Even though he admired and respected the work of Jimi, the Blues guitarist didn’t thought that they had a similar style, that could be compared. In an interview with Billy Pinnell in Australia back in 1984 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) he was asked if he was getting tired to be compared with Hendrix.
He answered: “Yeah, but because people don’t understand there’s only one Jimi Hendrix. I do what I can do. I’m very, very glad to be able to hear him and be influenced by his life and his music. But there is only one Jimi Hendrix. Just like there is only one Bo Diddley. Only one Muddy Waters and only Howlin’ Wolf.”
According to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix did not only played notes, he played “the whole instrument”
During a TV special made as tribute to Stevie in 1991 after his tragic death, an interview was broadcasted with Vaughan saying that he believed that Jimi Hendrix didn’t only played notes, but the “whole instrument”. He recalled the guitarist’s technique and how much he was influenced by him. “I just thought he was the greatest thing I’d ever seen, you know? I never got to see him live. But I was influenced by his music, his style, his attitude, what he was looking for. Or at least my interpretation of what he was looking for, which was growing from the inside out.”
“He just kind of ripped it wide open, and where his ideas came from I don’t really know. He just seemed to be able to uh….he played the whole instrument. It wasn’t just notes anymore, and he didn’t necessarily stick to making the guitar have anything to do with the guitar with the way he played it, you know? In a very melodic way, and musical way, he seemed to ignore frets and things like that, you know? (laughs)”
Stevie Ray Vaughan continued:
“It just turned it into something else. And it was like he played the whole thing, you know? I try to make noises here and there and sometimes they come out, but the best ones just come out, you know? It seems like he was kinda in tap with that, you know? He knew what he wanted to hear, and somehow he knew how to get that as he went.”
“Some of the distance that people put between playing music and playing Hendrix’s music is kind of strange to me. You know, why isn’t it just as accessible as Chuck Berry, or B.B. King, or Albert King, or Bo Diddley? Granted it’s hard to play (laughs) and there’s a lot to it. You know, there’s a lot to understanding what he’s doing, and I don’t even begin to know how he did some of the things he did. But, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try,” Stevie Ray Vaughan said.
He used to dream he was playing with Jimi Hendrix
Since Stevie Ray Vaughan’s career only took off in the 80s, he didn’t had the chance to meet Jimi Hendrix but the musician revealed in interviews that he had dreams with the late artist and that they even jammed together.
In 1990 he was asked in the TV special Rock Stars if he had the chance to meet him and he recalled the dreams he had. Never did. Never did. Lots of dreams. But, uh, for a period of time, I would have dreams that we would be showing each other stuff. Sometimes unloading semis in a driveway in suburban, housing district, you know?”
Stevie Ray Vaughan continued:
“Sometimes in some kind of wild-looking hall. But, one morning, I remember jumpin’ up and trying to go play what we were playin’ in there. I realized that we were playing on the bottom of the strings [laughs] between the strings and the neck, and I went ‘Naw this couldn’t be right…this couldn’t…this isn’t it!’ (laughs),” Stevie Ray Vaughan said.
He told that same dream with some different details in an interview MTV in 1984 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “There was one where we waited up, for the whole dream we sat this far apart (a small distance). I showed him anything I wanted to show him. He showed me anything he wanted to show me and we tried to play one time.”
“Right as a soon as I wake up, I ran to get one of my guitars but it dind’t work, nothing. I finally figured out a few months later that if it had been that easy I wouldn’t learn anything. I just do my best to do what I can to carry his music on. This is much as anybody else’s music that I appreciated on my life. I love him, like he was my brother,” Stevie Ray Vaughan said.