To a generation of young fans, Stevie Ray Vaughan is the face and voice of the blues. His swagger, his style, his energy, his sizzling Texas twang . . . Vaughan was an original who built on a brilliant foundation of Texas blues to leave a mark on the music world that has thrived well past the end of his tragically short life. All one needs to do to see the size of his impact on modern blues players is go to any blues guitar competition. Do that, and you'll see at least a dozen guys wearing black, broad-brimmed hats and playing battered sunburst Stratocasters.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was my personal guitar hero when I was younger. The first album I ever bought myself was a cassette of his debut Texas Flood. His exciting, energetic, southwest-flavored take on classic blues sparked my own interest in learning the instrument. Knowing that he had spent 10 hours a day practicing as a teenager inspired legions of other people to pursue music with that same kind of fervent intensity. Stories pervade of him playing until the callouses tore off his fingertips only to have him super-glue them back on and keep playing. His zeal was such that nobody even seems to question the accuracy of those tales. Most members of the current generation of blues musicians like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang idolized him because of that passion.
His music speaks for itself, though, so I'm going to let it do that now.