Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1985: The Concert Film

In the 1980s, Stevie Ray Vaughan tore through the international music scene like a Texas tornado. His amazingly fluid and dexterous guitar playing on a series of platinum albums established Vaughan as a household name and helped spark a blues revival. But in the summer of 1990 a helicopter he was riding on crashed into a hill in Wisconsin, and the whirlwind had passed.

This concert film captures Vaughan in full force. It was made on July 15, 1985, during Vaughan’s second appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. His first, in 1982, had seemed like a disaster at the time. Vaughan and his band Double Trouble had never made a record and were virtually unknown outside of Texas in 1982, and their performance at Montreux was met by booing from some members of the audience. Vaughan was shaken. He had never been booed before. But the 1982 Montreux performance turned out to be the most important of Vaughan’s career, as Chris Gill explains in Guitar World:

David Bowie was in the audience, and he made a point of meeting Vaughan and his manager in the after-hours lounge. John Paul Hammond, the son of record producer John Hammond, also saw the show and asked for a tape of the performance to give to his father. Jackson Browne caught the band’s performance in the after-hours lounge, and he sat in with the group until early the next morning. Within the next few months, Browne invited Vaughan and Double Trouble to his L.A. studio to record a demo, Bowie asked Stevie to appear on his next album [Let’s Dance], and John Hammond, who helped develop the careers of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, helped the band sign a deal with Epic Records and offered to produce their debut album. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

So the 1985 Montreux appearance was something of a triumphal return for Vaughan. There was no booing this time. Vaughan had a pair of platinum albums under his belt, and he and Double Trouble were touring Europe to promote their third album, Soul to Soul. In the film, Vaughan and the band are introduced by festival founder Claude Nobs, who gave them their big shot in 1982. The trio of Vaughan on guitar and vocals, Tommy Shannon on bass, and Chris Layton on drums had just been expanded to include Reese Wynans on keyboards. They play 13 songs, including three with Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland, who joins them on “Cold Shot,” “Tin Pan Alley” and “Look at Little Sister,” in which Copeland and Vaughan trade blistering guitar solos. Another song, Copeland’s “Don’t Stop By the Creek, Son,” was apparently performed that night but cut from the film. The rest of the concert appears to be intact. Here’s the set list:

  1. Scuttle Buttin’
  2. Say What!
  3. Ain’t Gone “N’ Give Up on Love
  4. Pride and Joy
  5. Mary Had a Little Lamb
  6. Cold Shot
  7. Tin Pan Alley
  8. Look at Little Sister
  9. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
  10. Texas Flood
  11. Life Without You
  12. Gone Home
  13. Couldn’t Stand the Weather

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