By: Kidman J. Williams
When you are twelve years old you really don’t have an idea of who you are. You don’t know what you really like and don’t like. Your whole identity is made by your parents. At twelve you really are just starting that long road of defining who and what you will be.
Sometimes it is just a natural toe dipping that starts you on the path of self-discovery. In some cases, like mine, you are grabbed by your ankles and tossed into it like a sack of garbage banging off the back of a dumpster. That was the case 25 years ago when I came in and saw the news of Stevie Ray Vaughan dying.
I walked into the house to see my Father just looking in amazement at the television screen. He was slack-jawed as I was listening to the claims that Stevie’s chopper went down after a show at Alpine Valley. At that point, the only thing I really knew about SRV was that my Father loved him and I loved the music that he did. It grabbed me like electricity grabs you and then catapults you from the initial grounding.
As I listened to MTV’s John Norris speak about SRV and show clips I became more and more involved. I became much more aware of everything. I looked over at my Father. A man who I never saw cry was getting choked up. That was the power and love that came through to people when SRV played. It was soul shaking.
John Norris continued talking about how the helicopter hit a man-made ski hill during the dense fog that was very well known around Alpine Valley:
“Stevie could have been driven out of Alpine Valley in a van, but gave his seat to someone else and opted instead for the ill fated chopper.”
My heart sunk when I heard John Norris say that and I wasn’t even totally sure why at twelve. It wasn’t like I personally knew him. He wasn’t my Uncle Stevie. But even at that green age, even though I couldn’t understand it, my heart and mind knew that the Earth lost a major force; we lost a small part of happiness in the world.
It wasn’t until later in life that I really understood what the world lost with SRV. Vaughan seemed to touch everyone around him. You never hear a bad word about him from those who knew and met him.
We can still feel his musical impact every time a young kid picks up the guitar and tries to play a blues scale. We can still feel his hurricane like presence in the room when Pride and Joy hits our speakers. We should feel honored to carry on just an ounce of the passion that SRV had for people and music.