AUGUST 27, 2010 MARKS THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY
of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s death. Here are some words of wisdom
from the man himself, as excerpted from GP interviews by Dan Forte
(October 1984), and Matt Resnicoff and Joe Gore (February 1990).
ON HIS INFLUENCES
“I got a lot of the fast things I do from
Lonnie Mack—just the ideas and the
phrasing, like on “Scuttle Buttin’.”
That’s dedicated to him. I got a lot of
turnarounds from Freddie King.
ON HIS “BACKWARDS” WHAMMY BAR
“I noticed that when Otis Rush used a vibrato bar, he had it mounted on
the top [by the bass strings], and he played upside-down. Hendrix had the
guitar upside-down, as well, except he strung it regular. It seemed to me
that the people who did that the best had it on top, so I moved mine.
Sometimes, it does get in the way. I’ve had it tear my sleeve halfway off.
It’s pretty tight, with four springs tightened all the way up.”
ON CHANNELING ALBERT KING FOR
DAVID BOWIE’S LET’S DANCE ALBUM
“I wanted to see how many places Albert King’s stuff
would fit. It always does. I love that man. When that album
came out, Albert heard it, and said, ‘Yeah [sneering], I
heard you doin’ all my sh*t on there. I’m gonna go up
there and do some of yours’ [laughs].”
ON HIS STRINGS
I use a .013, a .015 or
what shape my fingers
are in—a .019 plain, and
then .028, .038, .060 or
.056. If I go down to a
.018 on the G string, it
feels like a rubber band
to me. Sometimes, I literally
pull the strings
off. I can deaden a set of
strings completely after
one set, because I play
ON RHYTHM & GROOVE
“This may be just the twisted way
I see things, but it seems that
rhythms used to come from
things like trains, walking down
the street, riding horses, and little
simple engines. In this day and
age, it’s more jets and conveyor
belts, and there ain’t no rhythm
there. People aren’t hearing it.
The rhythm needs to breathe.
Sometimes, the best way to get
some punch out of something is
to slow down right before you hit
it. Kind of like a slingshot. Pow!”
ON PLAYING SOLOS
“I’m just trying to find the most tone I can get. Sometimes,
I can find it, and sometimes I want to choke my amp. But
then there are the nights when it doesn’t seem that I have
anything to do with it. That’s the one you always play for.
There have been nights when I start playing chord solos,
and I don’t know any of the chords [laughs]. There have been
nights when I completely lost it, and by the time it struck
me, I wouldn’t even know what song I was playing anymore.
Sometimes, it’s effortless, and sometimes it’s a struggle,
but the chill bumps are worth it when you get ’em.”
“I don’t consider myself a guitar
hero. I just have fun playing guitar.”
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