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

Relat­ed con­tent:

‘Elec­tric Church’: The Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence Live in Stock­holm, 1969

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