Legacy of Stevie Ray Vaughan


One of Vaughan’s high school bands. Pictured in front are Randy Martin, Vaughan and Paul Kessler, and in back are Bobby Ragan and Oscar Head. Photo courtesy of Randy Martin.

At the very least, Cliffites have a small bone to pick with the folks in Austin.

The Texas capital city claims the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan as their “favorite adopted son”. There is, however, one small problem. No one in Oak Cliff signed the adoption papers.

Granted, Stevie Ray played more in Austin as an older teen and early 20-something than at any other place on the planet. However, Dallas — Oak Cliff — was his home, where he got his start, where he experimented with style, where he always returned. Cliffites continue to claim him as our hometown treasure.

That will never change.

Stephen Ray Vaughan was born at Methodist hospital on Oct. 3, 1954, and attended Lenora Kirk Hall Elementary School, L. V. Stockard Junior High and Justin F. Kimball High School. The blues legend, singer, songwriter, composer and six-time Grammy winner was a product of his working class Oak Cliff community, learning to play the acoustic guitar while sitting in his bedroom inside his family’s modest home at 2557 Glenfield.

Then, along with older brother Jimmie, Stevie became obsessed with the amplified sounds of the electronic guitar.

Stevie played at the Cockrell Hill Jamboree, at the Rocket Skating Palace, at Candy’s Flare (inside the Red Bird National Guard Armory) and at Kimball High School events, Oak Cliff Country Club, and then various clubs and stages around Dallas. He even auditioned for the Kimball Knight Beats jazz band, but didn’t make the cut. He couldn’t read music.

During Christmas break of his ’72 high school senior year, the then “Steve” Vaughan made the life-altering decision to forgo graduation and move to Austin, to pursue his music career and join the others who had done the same. Traveling there most weekends anyway, Austin provided the atmosphere and habitat for this young musician to develop further — without parents, teachers, rules or curfews.

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Learning, growing, experimenting, and developing his own style, he blossomed into a true guitar wizard.

In 1982, after being the first unsigned and unrecorded artists to ever play at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band, Double Trouble, began their ascent up the entertainment ladder. Announced as the 1984 W.C. Handy Award winner (now renamed the Blues Music Award) for both Blues Instrumentalist and Blues Entertainer of the Year — in the latter, he was the first non African-American artist to garner the title. In 2003, he was named, posthumously, as No. 7 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Granted, Jimi Hendrix, who tops the list, was amazing, but SRV fans might challenge the magazine on its No. 7 choice. Our vote for Stevie might be at least No. 2.

Whenever on hiatus, or on tour in the tri-state area, Stevie made frequent trips back to Oak Cliff, sometimes spending holidays with his family. When he returned from drug and alcohol rehab in 1986, the world famous musician made a bold decision: He moved in with his widowed mother, Martha — back to his Oak Cliff childhood home. When he purchased the first home of his own, he chose a Dallas condo, to go along with another address in New York City where his girlfriend worked as a model.

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Stevie was comfortable in Oak Cliff and Dallas, and, when not on tour or recording or in NYC, he navigated Dallas’ streets, attempting to live a relatively normal life, maintaining his sobriety. On the last Thanksgiving before his untimely death, one Cliffite told me he passed Stevie in the aisle of the Hampton-Illinois Minyard grocery store, assumably making a last-minute purchase for his mother — picking up a missing ingredient for the family Thanksgiving dinner held at the Glenfield home.

In most ways, Stevie remained a hometown boy, even mowing his mother’s lawn on occasion when he visited and always being kind to old friends. Stopping by unannounced at the 1988 Oak Cliff Reunion, held at Dallas’ Longhorn Ballroom, the crowd was electrified with his surprise performance when he hopped on stage, grabbed a secretly prepared guitar, and joined the other musicians. It brought down the house!

Born in Oak Cliff, Stevie was also laid to rest in Oak Cliff. Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne and Dr. John were among the celebrities participating in the funeral service. Stevie was buried at Laurel Land Cemetery on Aug. 30, 1990, after his tragic death in a Wisconsin helicopter crash three days earlier.

With the death of Stevie’s father in 1986 and his mother in 2009, three of the four family members are now together in the cemetery’s Vaughan Estate, where Stevie’s sizable bronze grave marker is continually adorned with guitar picks, flowers and other mementos left by adoring fans. Oak Cliff’s beloved music legend and American success story, Stevie Ray Vaughan, is now permanently home.

Rest in peace, sweet son.


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  • RVela

    epic!

  • RVela

    that is so cool that you used to jam out with SRV back in the day.

  • RVela

    We grew up in 3 houses all within 10 blocks from his in Oak Cliff.

    He’s the reason I picked up the guitar

    I sure do miss Aunt Stella’s snow cones!! Best ever!

  • Michael minor

    Gayla. Thanks for the memories, I myself grew up in oak cliff, Didnt go to stockard but went to w.e. greiner and w.h.adamson, we lived on vernon, Im very proud to call mr.stevie ray vaughn My Homeboy….. Thanks

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  • Paul Richardson

    That guy was not worth a crap on keyboards if it is the guy I am thinking of! Tall looked almost dead ringer for John Kay in the old “stepin-wolf band”. Always wore sunglasses, guess he thought he was cool, if he were he would have played with the late great Vaughan!

  • Gayla Brooks

    Just sent you an email (Dec. 30, 2013).

  • Gayla Brooks

    Rusty, You might try posting your request on the Oak Cliff Boomers Facebook page. Seems like someone should know something. Unfortunately, I can’t help you. Let me know if you’re successful.

  • Rusty Cross

    Looking for Mike Werner, I used to jam with him. What ever happened to him? Great keyboard player.

  • Robert Boudens

    Hi my name is Robert and living in the Netherlands and i am planning a visit to Dallas and Austin. I am looking for special SRV places (adres) to visit. Who can help me with this. I really appreciate this. Please send me an e-mail (robert.boudens@zeelandnet.nl) thanks all

  • Gayla Brooks

    Yes! That would be wonderful!!!

  • SRV Oak Cliff Fan

    Mike Werner actually has the video footage of the Longhorn Ballroom concert Stevie Ray Vaughan appeared at and played on 3 songs — I really wish he would find the kindness in his heart to share it with everyone.

    There are so many true SRV fans that would love to enjoy that video.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    My pleasure, Stvyray. Reflecting on Stevie is always a nice thing. He was one in a million, and his passing remains to many, myself included, a great loss.

  • Stvyray

    Well done. Thank u for another voice that speaks for Stevie.

  • Don

    Sorry Roger.  The statue is correct.  Stevie had the trem reversed so that the
    Whammy bar is up top just the way it was for Hendrix when playing left handed with a right handed trem. 

  • Larry Ashford

    Gayla, thanks for the very informative article on SRV. I grew up in Oak Cliff and learned later in life that SRV lived there, but I never knew how close until this article which I recently researched. I lived on Rolinda Drive just across the railroad tracks from Illinois and Wright Street. I also went to Lenore Kirk Hall Elementary School, and walked to Stockard Jr High, which was just at the end of the block. My older brother went also to those schools, and attended Kimball High School. We moved away when I was 13. I wish I would have known him or his brother, Jimmie, but I was a few grades older than both. What a small world. For years, I have laughed at all the great guitarist ratings that don’t rate him as one of the best. I put Stevie at No. 2, right behind his idol, Jimi Hendrix. Oak Cliff should have some type of memorial for him, that’s for sure.

  • John Tracy

    Gayla, great article Stevie and I went to Stockard together and a matter of fact he taught me how to play my first barcord on the guitar. A couple of times I went over to his house on Glenfield and we played guitar. He was ahead of his time even back then.

  • Stephen Mull

    Well, I have been a fan of Stevie’s music since 1985 or so. Myself and my brother were born in Oak Cliff, though we now call the North Dallas area home. A few years back, reading history on his life, I found it interesting to discover that he attended high school at Kimball, my dad Jerry was a math teacher and part time coach at Kimball during the same time period he was there. Asked my dad about it, we discussed it a while and come to find out he was one of his teachers at Kimball, though he had no clue Stephen had became famous for his music. Kind of neat little piece of history there for anyone interested. Sure wished he was still with us, though the music always lives on.

  • Roger Booth

    OOPS ! I Saw the statue of Stevie and his guitar, and the sculptor made a mistake he has the guitar whammy bar in the wrong place, facing the guitar from the front- it is supposed to be at the bottom Right below the strings not at the top left oops!!!hope they correct this before they make the full size STATUE, all the Fender Strat guys Would freak out!!

  • Linda Page Sargeant

    I love getting any info about Oak Cliff. Thank you so much. Linda

  • Gayla Kokel

    For those of you who are interested: The DMN had a story about Stevie getting his due recognition, finally, from the City of Dallas/Oak Cliff. It was in (I believe) Friday’s edition and was written by Roy Appleton. This is a follow-up to the story that was in the same publication on Aug. 27, subject basically the same: time for Stevie’s recognition. There is a blues festival today at the Kessler Theater and surrounding area, and they have a rendering of a SRV statue that, if approved, will give rise to a fundraising campaign for its creation and placement somewhere in Oak Cliff. I think the ball is rolling…

  • Jimmie Sturdevant

    I too think this is a great article! I grew up with Stevie and his brother, Jimmie. Oscar Head (RIP) and Vicki (Green) Smith are my cousins, we went to school with Stevie from elementary at L.K.Hall, to Stockard Jr. High and Kimball High School. As I set and reminisce the good ol’ days, I see Stevie, my cousin Alton Borik (RIP), and myself sitting in my garage picking guitars and jamming out! I personally learned a lot from Stevie, he definitely had his on distinct sound. Thank you, Cindy for noticing how Dallas/Oak Cliff has forgotten their own. I will now make this a project of mine, to notify the Dallas officials of how much they are missing out on.
    Thank you Gayla for the article and for helping to keep Stevie’s memory alive in the Dallas/Oak Cliff area. His music will live on.

  • Vicki (Green) Smith

    Great article! I grew up in Oak Cliff with Stevie, and went to Stockard and Kimball (1971) with him. Oscar Head (RIP) is my cousin. I wish he were still around to see this great photo. I will certainly forward this to his dad and two remaining sisters. Thanks!

  • Larry Chapman

    Gayla
    Very good article. I was in the band Liberation with Steve. Jim Trimmier was also in that band. Steve could hear a song and immediately play it. Jim wrote the brass parts out for us. Our first job was Kimbell HS. We played a lot of Chicago, and Blood ,Sweat, and Tears music. We played several roller rinks, and clubs. One night at Arthurs (Aldolphus Hotel) he walked out on the dance floor and played the lead break of 25 0r 6 to 4 for twenty mins. We had to pull him back on stage. One night ZZ top, who were playing at the Cellar came down to listen. They ask if it was ok to jam with Stevie during our break. Steve was more than willing to keep playing while we rested for 30 min.

  • Cindy

    It’s nice that the residents of Oak Cliff want Stevie to be remembered as “theirs” as opposed to Austin’s. Unfortunately, Oak Cliff and Dallas leaders don’t seem at all interested in even acknowledging Stevie whereas Austin has always embraced him as on of them. There isn’t one thing in Dallas/Oak Cliff that memorializes Stevie, except his gravesite, which obviously the city leaders had nothing to do with. If a fan wants to see or experience anything in Texas having to do w/SRV they’d have to (and do) travel to Austin, not Dallas/Oak Cliff. While Stevie may have never forgotten his roots and where he came from, unfortunately, his roots forgot about him. It’s very sad. And when I travel from New Jersey to Texas to see all things Stevie Ray, I’ll only be passing through Oak Cliff to pay my respects at his grave site. The rest of the journey will take place in Austin. I’ll be writing a letter to folks in charge just to let them know how foolish their snub their native son is. To put it in terms they can relate to, I’ll let them know me and my friends will be spending our time and money in Austin, not O.C. After 20 yrs there is still interest and demand for anything SRV. If the city leaders are too stupid to do anything about it, they don’t deserve to be able to call him “theirs”

  • Gayla,

    Your article was great and brings great memories of 2 things. First was being one of your first students at Kimball, and the second besides the wonderful music Stevie left us all was watching him play doge ball on rainy days in P.E class. He would always walk out and laugh like a goof ball and get the opposing team to toss balls at him. He would get bombarded just to get balls back to his team. Thanks for the great article and your book on the real O.C.

    Jerry

  • Nancy McDaniel, Denver CO

    My brother forwarded me your loving tribute to Stevie Ray. I’m also an alum of LV Stockard with Stevie Ray and graduated from Kimball in 1972 – then headed to Austin and UT. I lived down the street from the Rome Inn in Austin where he played – maybe with the Cobras. I moved to Denver in 1978 and he appeared a number of times at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison Colorado, outside of Denver. So, I feel like I grew up with him and I mourn his untimely loss. I’m still in awe of his talent and musical maturity, even as a 17 year old kid! Thank you for your wonderful article and recollection of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his Oak Cliff roots.

  • Jim Lyons

    Gayla, don’t I remember seeing Stevie, among others, at free, open air concerts in the Fair Park band shell?

  • Gayla,

    Thanks for the great article and the trip down Memory Lane.

    I do not know when the Vaughans lived on Glenfield, but I threw their Dallas Morning News when they lived on June Drive half a block from Lenore Kirk Hall Elementary School. That was in either 1961 or 62, and that was probably the first place they lived. My younger brother Bill and Jimmie were classmates in Junior High School at Stockard.

    It was great to see both the Vaughan brothers grow into fine musicians. Oak Cliff spawned MANY great musicians, and those two were among the best.

  • M Woicik

    Gayla,
    Great job as usual! Yes, it totally reminds me of the Oak Cliff we grew up in and still love to this day.We have had some greats come out of OC and Stevie Ray was top of the list. Keep up the good work.

  • Paul Kessler

    —-David Young, you’re right…..this was Jr High. We all went to Atwell, except for Stevie. Brooklyn Underground played for T.J Browne’s Jr High graduation dance in 1968. That’s where I met my wife of 38 years. Brooklyn Underground disolved soon after that. I’d give anything to have one of those business cards. I had completely forgot all about ’em.
    —-Paul Kessler

  • Jim Trimmier

    Thanks, Gayla, for the article. Some of my enduring memories are of watching Stevie, sitting with (Jimmie’s) guitar, playing licks over and over. I would get tired of the repetition, but Stevie never would. I was witnessing not “work”, not “practice”, but pure joy in music making. It is a memory I bring up when “name-dropping” to my saxophone students. I knew he was great back then, and I am lucky to have known him. I will always miss him.

  • David Young

    I think this photo may actually be of a junior high band. Isn’t this the Brooklyn Underground lineup? I still have one of their business cards somewhere – black ink on a red background. Randy Martin and Bobby Reagan may have been at Carter, but I’m pretty sure Steve was still at Stockard when this photo would have been taken.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Larry Click~
    I was able to get the webmaster to correct the online version. It now reads (as you can see): L.V. Stockard. Although I hate that this mistake will be forever be in print, I’m going to ‘absorb’ some of the SRV aura and say that I did the same thing Stevie did when he mistakenly copyrighted his song as “Ain’t Gone ‘n’ Give Up on Love.” They decided to just leave it that way, which I think is poignant and has an air of innocense and sweetness. Some things just are.

    The House is Rocklin’,
    Gayla

  • Vicki Porter

    It’s such an interesting phenomenom that we take things, places, and people from our past for granted until later in life we realize how amazing and special they were. I always enjoy your articles. Keep up the good work.

  • Theresa SQ

    I had the great fortune to see Stevie Ray Vaughn In a Natural Rock Ampitheater in New Mexico, I believe if I remember it was around Santa Fe or Red Rock, with his brother Jimmy Vaughn. It was unbielivable out under the Stars! I was sitting on the side rocks just to the right of the stage, and I must say, it was the best seat in the house! I have a CD in my Van right now and have traveled many a highway to his tunes! He is Missed and if I remember correctly, BB King and Eric Clapton said, “Had he lived he would surpass them easily”.
    He was one of my Hero’s.
    Theresa SQ

  • Rest In Peace Stevie Ray! Glad I got to see him in his formative years back in the 60′ and 70’s. I would see him around the neighborhood, but the first time I ever saw him play a guitar was at Pauls house on Ivywood!!!

  • Thank you so much for this article. I still miss him. He reminds me of the Oak Cliff I remember as a kid. What a brilliant musician.

    http://www.leepender.com/2010/08/twenty-years-ago-today.html

  • Charles “Benny” Kirtley

    I came along twelve or thirteen years before Stevie really got going in his music career. Truthfully now, his music and style is one of my favorites. I just picked up one of his CDs last month appropriately named “The Blues”. Great article Gayla, thanks for posting. Aways looking forward to the “Oak Cliff” side of the magazine!

  • mickey porter

    Again–good read! Your roots are certainly interesting!

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  • Paul Kessler

    That’s a nice article, Gayla………and, very accurate!! I know ’cause that’s me in that photo. I was 14 years old and Steve was one year younger. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for 20 years. Just for the record, Oscar Head (in the photo), was not really in the band…..he was kind of a friend/manager. Our lead singer, Billy Metcalf (also deceased)is not pictured. I would’ve figured him to be the most talented, at the time. Brooklyn Underground did play several times at Candy’s Flare, Oak Cliff Country Club and Glen Oaks Methodist Church. Those were the hot local venues for kids, at the time. I am proud and very blessed to be a part of that history.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Larry, Sorry about the typo. Duh??? I’ve only known it was Stockard for, let’s see now….maybe 50 years. I’m not sure what happened except that sometimes the auto “spellcheck” makes these corrections without being prompted. Oh, well. Things happen. Glad you caught it. Wish I could get the magazine re-printed! Don’t think that will happen.

  • Larry Click

    Gayla: Top notch as usual. As a Stockard, (not Stockyard, I’ll get over that slur soon)alum, I was so surprised to learn of SRV’s Stockard/Oak Cliff roots). Outstanding trip down Oak Cliff memory lane once again. You’re amazing.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    I hope all of you enjoy this lovingly assembled story about “our” Stevie, written, with some sadness, to both commemorate the 20th anniversay of his untimely death and to share with others how much Stevie’s Oak Cliff roots meant to him.

    The photo of Stevie and friends was taken at Randy Martin’s house in Oak Cliff c 1968, according to Randy, by one of his parents. The band was known as The Brooklyn Underground and lasted about 18 months to two years(’67-’68). Even then, Stevie had begun his unique ‘costuming’…the sunglasses!

    Do post all your comments and stories. Or, better yet, send me the stories or anecdotes at my ADVOCATE email address. I may have additional questions for you and can better communicate that way. And I can keep anything you want to share private if you like.

    Be sure to check out the other links to new and archived blog posts that relate to SRV, listed just under the end of the column.

    Happy reading!

    Gayla