Legendary Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Cleveland, about seven years after becoming eligible for the honor.
Vaughan died at the height of his blossoming career. Armed with a signature Stratocaster, he 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.
John Mayer called it the “honor of a lifetime” to induct Vaughan, whom he called “the ultimate guitar hero.”
“Stevie used his guitar to lead him out of town,” Mayer said. “He gave me hope because heroes give you hope. While Jimi Hendrix came down from outer space, Stevie came up from below the ground. He was the ultimate guitar hero, and heroes live forever.”
Surviving Double Trouble members Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon and Reese Wynans, along with Vaughan’s brother Jimmie Vaughan, accepted the induction from Mayer as part of the ceremony at Cleveland’s historic Public Hall. Austin’s Gary Clark Jr. and close Vaughan family friend Doyle Bramhall II also joined the inductees for a three-song set as part of a star-studded evening that was filmed for a May 30 HBO telecast.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album, Texas Flood, in 1983. Eligibility for induction to the Rock Hall begins 25 years after an act’s first recording, so the band had been eligible since 2008. The nominating committee didn’t give Vaughan and his band the nod until last fall; overwhelming fan support on the Hall’s website voting in the weeks that followed helped to ensure their induction.
Vaughan, who died in a helicopter crash after a show in Wisconsin in August 1990, released four studio albums plus a live record with the band during his lifetime. The Vaughan Brothers duo record Family Style came out a few weeks after Stevie Ray’s death.
Posthumously, Vaughan has remained a major influence on younger acts such as Clark, whose guitar-fueled blues-rock feels like a modern-day Austin successor to Stevie Ray’s classic style, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, with whom Double Trouble drummer Layton is currently touring.
Austin music business veteran Mark Proct, who worked with both Vaughan brothers in the 1980s and has a new book of photographs called Home Today, Gone Tomorrow documenting that era, says the recognition for Vaughan and his bandmates was long in coming.
“I’m happy that at this point that Stevie is finally getting the due that he deserves,” Proct said. “And I’m also very glad that they added Double Trouble to the induction. I think it’s deserving all the way around.”