Jimmie Vaughan & The Tilt-A-Whirl Band
3-14-2015 - Back by popular demand.
Jimmie Vaughan is far more than one of the greatest and most respected guitarists in the world of popular music. As Guitar Player Magazine notes, “He is a virtual deity–a living legend.” His musical ethos and personal style have had an impact on contemporary culture, from spearheading the current blues revival with The Fabulous Thunderbirds to his longtime, innate fashion sense of slicked-back hair and sharp vintage threads, to becoming a premier designer of classic custom cars. But for Jimmie, none of that is part of a crusade or a career plan. It’s just his natural way of living life.
At age 15, Vaughan was playing the rough and tumble Dallas nightclub scene nightly. By 16 he joined The Chessman, who became the area’s top musical attraction, eventually opening concerts in Dallas for Jimi Hendrix. He was developing his style; clean, economical and highly articulate; concentrating on rhythmic accents and lead work that relied on his "less is more" approach.
In 1969, he helped found "Texas Storm," a group that dug into blues and soul with a Texas accent. The band migrated to Austin, and it was there that Jimmie helped jump start his brother Stevie Ray’s career when the younger Vaughan joined Texas Storm on bass. Determined to create an ideal vehicle for blues that was both modern in impact and appeal yet true to the tradition, Vaughan founded The Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson in the mid 1970s. When Antone’s nightclub opened in Austin in 1975, the Thunderbirds became the house band, jamming with such blues greats as Waters, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King and a host of others, all of whom recognized Vaughan as the man who would keep the music they developed alive.
Vaughan recorded eight albums with The Thuderbirds and, on the strength of hits like “Tuff Enuff,” earned two Grammy nominations and years of worldwide touring. They brought blues back into the pop charts and the contemporary musical lexicon, sparking a revival that continues today. Prior to leaving the group in 1990, Jimmie had joined up with brother Stevie to record "Family Style," an album that reflected their mutually deep musical roots and modern artistic sophistication. But in August, 1990, just a few weeks prior to the album’s release, Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. Jimmie was devastated and retreated from touring and recording, though he continued to play guitar every day. The the success of "Family Style" further enhanced Jimmie’s reputation as a distinctive musical stylist, whose rich-toned exuberance has earned him the respect of many of the greats of contemporary music. He began showing up on albums like B.B. King and Eric Clapton’s "Riding With The King," Bob Dylan’s "Under The Red Sky," Willie Nelson’s "Milk Cow Blues," Carlos Santana’s "Havana Moon" and Don Henley’s "Inside Job."
Buddy Guy once said: “He’s unbeatable when it comes to the blues. He just plays it like it’s supposed to be played.”
And Stevie Ray, when people would compare his playing to that of his brother, would say there was really no contest. “I play probably 80 percent of what I can play. Jimmie plays one percent of what he knows. He can play anything.”
And yet Jimmie Vaughan remains modest when it comes to his life and work. “I’m just trying to have fun like everyone else,” he concludes. “I’ve been playing since I was 13. I play every day. I’ve never stopped. I can’t imagine that I could exist without it.”