Born in Dallas, Texas back in 1954, Stevie Ray Vaughan started his musical career quite young, at the age of 9, what made him become an incredible guitarist throughout the years. With the release of his first album “Texas Flood” with Double Trouble in 1983, he helped to bring back the Blues to the mainstream and reach a new generation with that kind of music.
His success continued with the release of “Couldn’t Stand The Weather” (1984), “Soul To Soul” (1985) and “In Step” (1989). But his career was tragically cut short stevafter he died in a helicopter crash. Although he had a short career, Vaughan still is considered one of the best Blues guitarists of all time and continues to influence many new players.
During his career, Vaughan always named old Blues artists as his main influences but he also praised younger players, even naming one of his favorites.
The guitarist that Stevie Ray Vaughan said was one of his favorites
Growing up in Texas, Vaughan had the chance to see up-close many incredible Blues guitarists playing and they became a huge influence to him. But the guitarist also admired younger players and one of them was Eric Johnson, who he praised in an interview with Guitar Player magazine back in 1986.
Curiously, they knew each other since they were teenagers and at one point considered to form a band. “Eric is a wonderful cat. He’s always been one of my favorite people in the world, as well as one of my favorite guitar players. The guy has done more trying to be the best that he can be than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
“He plays all the time, and tries to get his instruments in perfect shape all the time. He works hard on his tone, sound, techniques. And he does incredible things with all kinds of guitars. Electric, lap steel, acoustic, everything,” Stevie Ray Vaughan said.
Vaughan praised Johnson in that interview in the same year the musician released his debut album “Tones” (1986). The track “Zap” was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1987 Grammy Awards.
Vaughan said that he could have been as big as Jeff Beck
Although Johnson’s debut album was released in 1986, he had recorded another album called “Seven Worlds” in the late 70s. That record was released only in 1998 after years of various legal disputes. In the same interview with Guitar Player magazine in 1986, Vaughan talked about that unreleased Johnson album, at the time. He said that if that record was released in the late 70s, the musician would have been as big as the legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck.
“Few people understand that when the guy was 15, he was playing Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery stuff. He was doing it right that’s pretty cool! If the record that he made years ago, ‘The Seven Worlds’, had come out at the time it was ready, instead of being held back for the reason of dollars and pennies. Someone besides Eric was holding out for too much money for a deal. He would have been as big as Jeff Beck.”
Stevie Ray Vaughan continued:
“He would have been very much in the public eye for modern jazz, rock, and fusion. The guy deserves a lot more recognition than he’s ever gotten. Eric is an honest human being. He cares about everything. Just listen to him and learn,” Stevie Ray Vaughan said.
Vaughan sadly didn’t live long enough to see the evolution of Eric Johnson’s big break, after the release of the 1990 album “Ah Via Musicom”. The record was released in March, 1990 and Vaughan died at the age of 35 in August of that year.
That album had the track “Cliffs of Dover” that gave Johnson a huge commercial success at the time. He won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1990 because of that song.