DEAD: Stevie Ray Vaughan

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Stevie Ray Vaughan (aged 35)
American guitarist, songwriter and recording artist

Stephen Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, and one of the most influential guitarists in the revival of blues in the 1980s. He is commonly referred to as one of the greatest guitar players of all time.

DEATH: On Monday, August 27, 1990, at 12:50 a.m. (CDT), Vaughan and members of Eric Clapton’s touring entourage played an all-star encore jam session at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Alpine Valley Resort in East Troy, Wisconsin. Afterwards they took off for Midway International Airport in Chicago in a Bell 206B helicopter, the most common way for acts to enter and exit the venue as there is only one road in and out, which is heavily used by fans. The helicopter crashed into a nearby ski hill shortly after takeoff.

Vaughan and the four others on board – pilot Jeff Brown, agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and tour manager Colin Smythe – were all killed. The helicopter was identified as being owned by Chicago-based company Omniflight Helicopters. Initial reports of the crash inaccurately claimed that Clapton had also been killed in the accident.

Vaughan’s funeral service was held on August 31, 1990, at Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. His wooden casket quickly became adorned with bouquets of flowers. An estimated 3,000 mourners joined a procession led by a white hearse. Among those at the public ceremony were Jeff Healey, Charlie Sexton, ZZ Top, Colin James, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy. Vaughan’s grave marker reads: “Thank you… for all the love you passed our way.”

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