Stevie Ray Vaughan was a lifelong student of the blues. Wearing his influences on his sleeve, he weaved the tone of his favourite guitarists into his own iconic sound but somehow constantly emerging reinvented, bringing old-school blues to the masses with his electric take on the genre.
Kindred Spirits in Texas
Vaughan’s connection to Eric Johnson ran deep. Both hailed from Texas, a burgeoning blues hub in the early ’80s. In their youth, the idea of forming a band together showcased their shared musical history.
Vaughan’s Praise for Eric Johnson
In a 1986 interview with Guitar Player, Vaughan’s admiration for Johnson shone through. He praised Johnson’s dedication to his craft and his pursuit of excellence. Vaughan’s words reflected a deep respect for Johnson’s commitment to refining his playing and sound.
“Eric is a wonderful cat. He’s always been one of my favourite people in the world, as well as one of my favourite guitar players. The guy has done more trying to be the best that he can be than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Unveiling Johnson’s Hidden Gem
Johnson’s journey had its challenges, with his debut album delayed due to legal issues. Vaughan had the chance to listen to Johnson’s unreleased album, “Seven Worlds,” and envisioned its potential impact had it been released earlier. Vaughan believed Johnson’s blend of modern jazz, fusion, and rock infused with blues could have positioned him alongside guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck.
“Few people understand that when the guy was 15, he was playing Kenny Burrell and Wes Montgomery stuff,” said Vaughan. “If the record that he made years ago, Seven Worlds, had come out at the time it was ready, instead of being held back for the reason of dollars and pennies – he would have been as big as Jeff Beck.”
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s appreciation for Eric Johnson reveals the intricacies of Vaughan’s own musical journey. Johnson’s dedication to his craft and his diverse musicality resonated with Vaughan, showcasing how musicians inspire and learn from each other.
“The guy deserves a lot more recognition than he’s ever gotten,” Vaughan insisted. “Eric is an honest human being. He cares about everything. Just listen to him and learn.”