IT TOOK FAR too long to happen, but on Sept. 24, 2016, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at the annual ceremony in Cleveland.
Eligibility for induction to the Rock Hall begins 25 years after an act’s first recording, so Vaughan and his band had been eligible since 2008, 25 years after their debut album, Texas Flood, was released.
The nominating committee, however, didn’t give Vaughan and his band the nod until last fall; overwhelming fan support on the Hall’s website voting system in the weeks that followed helped ensure their induction.
Austin musicians Gary Clark Jr. and Doyle Bramhall II joined surviving Double Trouble members Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon and Reese Wynans, along with Vaughan’s brother, Jimmie Vaughan, for a three-song set during the ceremony.
Vaughan, who died in a helicopter crash after a show in Wisconsin in August 1990, has remained a major influence on younger acts like Clark and John Mayer, who inducted the Dallas native.
In between labeling Vaughan “the ultimate guitar hero” enough times to spawn a drinking game, Mayer explained how his idol opened new musical worlds for him. “I grew up listening to [Michael Jackson’s] Thriller, [Van Halen’s] 1984 and the Footloose soundtrack, so when it came time to give Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble a listen, it sounded like an exotic tale told in a familiar voice. The second I heard it, I knew it was going to mean everything.”
Mayer took care to give Vaughan’s bandmates their due: “Double Trouble was the reason Stevie was able to break the barrier between music guitar players loved and music everybody could feel. By all accounts, if Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble took the stage to open for someone, they gave it back in shambles.”
The singer also poignantly credited Vaughan with helping him steer clear of addiction. “Because of Stevie, I grew up proudly turning down every drug and drink that was offered to me,” Mayer said. “Heroes can save your life.”
Concluding his speech, Mayer offered, “I’m a Stevie Ray Vaughan wannabe, because I wanted to be Stevie, and I still want to be Stevie. And if you ever pick up a guitar, is there anybody better to want to be than Stevie Ray Vaughan?”
Vaughan’s brother Jimmie accepted the award on Stevie’s behalf.
“Stevie Ray Vaughan was my little brother,” he began. “I know he’d want to thank the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but most of all, he’d want to thank his fans, all 18 million of them, who voted for him to get in here. He’d be so proud, and so would my mother and father.
“Stevie died on the same day as my father — four years apart,” Vaughan added. “To me, it seems like he’s just out on tour, and he’s going to come back soon. I’m not going to ever get over losing him.”
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