“It felt like breaking out of jail”: Why Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Jimi Hendrix cover allowed him to follow his heart

“Stevie played the song with so much soul and spirit.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix

Image: Paul Natkin / Chris Walter / Getty Images

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In a new interview, Double Trouble bassist Tommy Shannon shares how Stevie Ray Vaughan’s cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return) on their second album Couldn’t Stand The Weather marked a key turning point in the band’s musical journey.

Recounting Vaughan’s iconic rendition of the Hendrix chat in the latest issue of Guitar World, Shannon reveals that the frontman had to be talked into doing it: “He needed encouragement to pursue what was in his heart, and Voodoo Child was our point of departure into the future.”

“It felt like breaking out of jail,” he explains. “Stevie played the song with so much soul and spirit. That take was live from beginning to end, seven minutes of pure guitar energy without a single miscue.”

Following 1984’s acclaimed record Couldn’t Stand The Weather, Double Trouble would go on to release four more albums with Vaughan – Soul to Soul, In Step, The Sky Is Crying, In the Beginning – before the guitarist’s death in 1990.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready previously sung the praises of Stevie Ray Vaughan, saying he gained a better understanding of his guitar hero Jimi Hendrix’s trademark thumb technique after watching Stevie perform.

“I could watch Hendrix play Monterey, but I still didn’t really know what he was doing,” McCready explained. “I saw he had his thumb over the fretboard, but it still didn’t make any sense to me. But when I saw Stevie live, it was like, ‘Oh! That’s what he’s doing.’”

“Stevie somehow taught me through osmosis. He was so bluesy and so real, and he’d sit on the side of the stage at the end of the show and do Lenny, y’know, that little mellow piece.”

“When he did Voodoo Child, it was so bad-ass. He changed how I wanted to play, and if you listen to [1992 single] Even Flow, you can hear me trying to emulate his stuff.”

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